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You've Got Me Feeling Emulsions

Beef Carpaccio, bone marrrow emulsion, cucumber vinaigrette, cucumber flowers, basil

Beef Carpaccio, bone marrrow emulsion, cucumber vinaigrette, cucumber flowers, basil

I know that you've all had those sleepless nights where you looked at the ceiling and thought to yourself, 'but really, what is the difference between a mayonnaise and an emlusion?' Because if you are a chef you have had to suffer through the humiliation of the million different emulsions you're told to make throughout your career that should be so simple but take so much time to get right. If you've ever gone to a restaurant with an ambitious menu, chances are you've encountered the emulsion. And chances are further that you've thought, 'but really, isn't it just mayonnaise?' 

Yes, and no. Technically speaking, an emulsion is a mixture of any two liquids that would not ordinarily or naturally mix together: the easiest to imagine is oil and water, whose incompatibility is so well known that it's used to explain why you didn't get along with your cabin mates at summer camp. However with the right techniques, you can take oil and water and create some of the most fundamental dishes that any kitchen requires. (I know, if only you'd known that back at summer camp).  The emulsion has become a culinary staple and an essential element of the modern kitchen; it was even the subject of Christina Tosi's lecture at Harvard University in November 2014

But then again, we've known about emulsions since our parents were packing baloney sandwiches for us at school, or we were experiencing our first heartbreaks and binge-watching television. Because indeed some of your favourite foods are emulsions: ice cream, chocolate, and yes, mayonnaise. Composed of oil and egg yolks, mayonnaise benefits from the stabilizing effects that eggs bring to emulsions while also getting all of the added richness that the oil brings. So it is no wonder that mayonnaise has been our guilty pleasure condiment for so many years; we've even got a friend who told us that one of her favourite snacks is a grilled cheese fried in mayonnaise and I have to say, it sounds absolutely delicious. 

I may just have to use some of the below recipe on said grilled cheese one day, but for now I've paired it with beef carpaccio, cucumber flowers and basil. I also used Michel Bras' technique of adding whole cooked eggs to the emulsion, rather than the raw egg yolks that are more common in a straight mayonnaise. Because the bone marrow is so rich and I still wanted to keep the olive oil prominent, I needed the added stability that both parts of the egg brings. One of the other benefits of preparing this emulsion with cooked eggs is that it can be cooked without splitting, so it also works really well hold a stuffing together or as a topping for meat that you want to brown under a grill.  I also really like this recipe because its so versatile- get yourself used to the technique and you'll be serving your kids the most elegant baloney sandwiches in town. 


Bone Marrow Emulsion

1 egg (cooked 5Mins in boiling water then cooled in ice water until cold) 
75g water
75g Bone Marrow (Rendered and strained)
75g Olive oil

1. Shell the cooked egg and put into blender with water
2. Turn blender on high speed and slowly drizzle in the oil and liquid marrow 
3. Once all fat is incorporated stop blender (don't worry if its still a bit liquid at this point) 
4. Put the mix into fridge to set for at least 3-4 hours