I’m a sucker for custard. Savory or sweet, I love them all. I’m also a fan of homemade, yet convenient, grab and go breakfast foods. Here’s a tasty dish that brings it all together.
The story starts with us having too much milk in the house. It happens from time to time. We get a weekly delivery, and every once in a while the bottles start to stack up. We also get eggs, so they, too, can accumulate.
I wanted to make small portions of egg, a convenient size for a breakfast; not too filling. I thought I’d use some of our spare milk and make a small curd cottage cheese that would easily blend with eggs, and add a nice tart richness. You can, of course, short cut this and buy cottage cheese..I guess.
Sous Vide Cottage Cheese
1 gallon fresh whole milk
1/8t Calcium Carbonate
1/2t Mesophilic starter culture
Set the sous vide water bath temperature to 72F and preheat. Place the milk in a container that fits in the water bath. My water tank is a square 20 quart Cambro container. I put the milk in a 4 quart square Cambro container. I inverted a 2 quart Cambro to make an impromptu stand for the milk container to keep its lid above the water level, but still below the lid of the 20 quart container. Heat the milk in the water bath to 72F, the water and milk being at equilibrium.
Once the milk is at 72F, add the CaCO3 and the starter culture. Mix in thoroughly. Re-cover the container and the water bath and hold at 72F for 24 hours.
In 24 hours, the milk will have curdled. Using a long knife, cut the cured in 1/4″ cubes by slicing first vertically in two orthogonal directions and then side to side for each of the four sides from the top of each side to the bottom at a 45 degree angle. The pieces will be quite soft and not perfect cubes by any means! It doesn’t matter.
Raise the temperature of the water bath to 140F, and periodically check and stir the curds until they reach 100F. Hold at 100F for 15 minutes.
Raise the temperature of the water bath to 160F, and periodically check and stir the curds until they reach 112F. Turn off the sous vide machine to stop heating, but keep the curds in the bath for 60 minutes. Stir up the curds a few times during the hour. Near the end of the hour, test the firmness of the curds. They should be like firm custard. Add the salt and stir in.
Line a colander with cheese cloth and pour the curds in. Pull the corners up to make a bag. Let the whey run off for a few minutes. It drains very quickly. Dunk the bag in a bowl of ice water a few times, allowing it to drain each time. This will cool the curds.
Place the curds in a bowl and add some milk to it to get the right consistency, soft, but not wet. Put in a container and refrigerate. I took a little bit right away and ate it with some fruit.
Now that we have some tasty cottage cheese, it’s time for the egg bites!
Using the sous vide device, heat the water bath to 167F. You can play around with the temperature a few degrees higher or lower to find the consistency of the egg that you prefer.
Gather 12 4 oz. Mason jars. Short jelly jars are perfect (you may also use them for sous vide creme brulee or cheesecakes using a similar technique.) Wash and dry the jars, rings, and lids. Give them a light spray of cooking oil to make it easier to get the egg out (in case you decide to plate them versus eating right from the jar!)
In a large bowl, whisk together 10 eggs, 1-1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup of grated cheese. I used some Jarlsberg that I cold smoked in The Porkulator using apple wood chips, about 80F for 4 hours.
Add 2T potato starch and mix in thoroughly. This will keep the cheese shreds and any other fillings in suspension while the eggs cook.
As far as fillings, you can use whatever you’d like. You may line the jars with the fillings or mix them into the egg. You may do both, if you like.
For these, I used thin slices of baked Virginia country ham. Who wouldn’t love ham and eggs?
Carefully place the jars in the water bath, making sure they are tightly sealed and upright. Cook for one hour. Remove from the water bath, and they are ready to eat or to store in the fridge for later.
The result should be like a soft, savory custard with the cheese and fillings suspended in a pillow of goodness! Breakfast can be enjoyed at any hour, just saying….