Oeufs en gelée

Serves 4

You rarely see this dish on menus anywhere these days, although Rowley Leigh did have it among his classic hors d'oeuvres on his opening menu at Café Anglais and I ordered it a couple of times. Ideally you should prepare a home-made consommé but that can be a bit of a drag, so I've suggested a tin of beef consommé here as an alternative.

415g tin of beef consommé
2tbsp medium sherry or madeira
4 leaves leaf gelatin
4 eggs
A little vinegar for poaching

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes, and meanwhile bring 100ml of the consommé to the boil. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin leaves and stir them into the hot consommé until completely dissolved, then mix with the rest of the consommé and the sherry or Madeira. Place 4 ramekins, small pudding bowls or similar, large enough to hold an egg each, on to a small tray. Pour about 1cm of the consommé into each ramekin and transfer to the fridge to set.

Bring a pan of water, large enough to poach the four eggs, to a rolling simmer and add about 1tbsp of vinegar. Crack the eggs into 4 tea cups and drop them separately into the water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, lifting one with a slotted spoon to ensure the yolk is still runny. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cold water to prevent them cooking any further. Place on to some kitchen paper and trim them of any stray bits of egg white.

When the jelly is set, place the egg with the best-looking side facing down on to the jelly and top up the ramekin with the rest of the jellied consommé. Return to the fridge for a few hours or until the jelly has set.

To serve, have a bowl of boiling water ready and dip the ramekins in briefly – for a few seconds – and carefully turn out on to serving plates. Serve with a green salad or chicory as a starter or as a part of a buffet.

Mark Hix is launching Chef's Table, a monthly cooking class at his new restaurant in Lyme Regis. Prices start at £120 per head, and Mark will cook up a four-course lunch with you. For further details see restaurantsetcltd.co.uk

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