My dear cousins requested a poached egg post. And, as I have previously mentioned, there is a whole lotta egg in my house, so I am only too happy to oblige. But, I cannot merely do a simple poached egg. (Well, I can. And, it is simple. Trust me.)
Instead, I want to bring you this recipe from culinary school. And, this is how shady my culinary school is: The recipe is entitled Oeufs en Meurette (which means eggs in red wine sauce). My professor/chef gave us a “school copy” with the school’s logo so one would expect it to be a school devised recipe. But no, it’s actually on one of my favorite web sites: epicurious.com. I knew this because I had made the recipe from the site before. Word for word. So very happy that I spent all of that money on culinary school when I could just do as I had always done and printed recipes from the web.
Anyway, I am not a plagiarist; I will give credit where credit is due. The recipe is originally from Anne Willian’s Cooking with Wine cookbook. Yes, that’s right, folks. We’re going to cook eggs in wine. Can there be anything better? (You can also find a copy of this recipe at epicurious.com–where you can read reviews from other ordinary citizens who have tried it.)
The version of the recipe that I list out is scaled down. (I cut it in half as it’s only Paul and myself.)
Poached Eggs in a Red Wine Sauce by Anne Willian
- 4 fresh eggs (OK, this cracks me up… no, please use rotten eggs, they will taste so much better)
- ½ bottle of fruity wine (I used Merlot. It was fine.)
- 1 C chicken stock
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- bouquet garni of thyme sprigs (use fresh, not dried), parsley stems, a bay leaf, and ½ t black peppercorns crushed
- salt and pepper
For the garnish:
- 2 T butter
- ¼ lb mushrooms, sliced (Paul doesn’t like baby onions [see below] so I used ½ lb mushrooms)
- 2 slices of bacon, diced
- 8-10 baby onions, peeled
For the croûtes:
- Crusty white bread sliced into four thick slices
Start by poaching the eggs. To poach the eggs, bring the wine and stock to a vigorous boil in a large shallow pan. Break eggs, one by one, into the places where the liquid is bubbling so the bubbles spin the eggs. Lower the heat and poach the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes until the yolks are fairly firm but still soft to the touch.
If you have never poached eggs before, I have redone this process with clear liquid so you can actually see what is going on in this mess of a pot. A quick lesson on how to poach an egg never hurt anyone. Back to the recipe: Lift out the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
Trim off the stringy edges with scissors and set the eggs aside. (See? I have stringy bits to trim off! No worries if you do, too.) Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bouquet garni to the poaching liquid and simmer until it is concentrated and reduced by half, 20 to 25 minutes. The original recipe has a thing where you can thicken the sauce making a fake roux of butter and flour and adding that to the end. But, if you have patience, simmering away the sauce gives it a better flavor than adding flour (which if you’re not careful may not cook and could add a raw taste to the sauce).
Meanwhile, cook the garnish, melt half the butter in a medium saucepan, add the mushrooms, and sauté until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms, add bacon with the remaining butter, and fry until brown. Lift out the bacon and drain it on paper towels. Add the baby onions and sauté them gently until brown and tender, shaking the pan often so they color evenly, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off all the fat, replace the mushrooms and bacon, and set the pan aside.
OK, I’m going to be honest on this one. This is where I disregard the recipe. Why cook the bacon and let all that lovely bacon flavor go to waste? I say, cook the bacon, remove from pan. Keep bacon fatty happiness in the pan and add the mushrooms. Then, add a bit of butter and the onions if you choose to use them. Add the bacon back in. Seriously, people, much better with bacon fat!
Make the croûtes, using a round or oval cutter, and cut the bread into 4 shapes just larger than a poached egg. Heat 1/4 inch (6 mm) of oil in a frying pan, over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the croûtes until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Set the croûtes aside.
And, again, I just bought some crusty French bread, cut it on a long diagonal so I had large pieces. And, then fried it in the same pan I had previously cooked the mushrooms–adding a little bit of butter instead of oil. But, I’m decadent like that.
Finally, strain the sauce over the garnish of mushrooms, baby onions, and bacon, pressing on the carrot, onion, and celery to extract all the liquid and flavor. Bring the sauce to a boil, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
So, what the recipe doesn’t say is that your eggs may have gotten a bit cool whilst sitting around waiting for that sauce to boil down. When the sauce is almost ready (after the straining but before you add in the mushrooms), gently put the eggs back in. This will reheat the eggs, but it will also accomplish a bit of fine-tuning on the looks of the dish. It will make the cut bits the same color as the rest of the egg (remember you cut off the stringy bits and there might be some white showing), it will get rid of any patterns that your paper towel may have left on the eggs, and it will remove any blue coloring. That’s right, your eggs may turn blue. And, let’s be honest, blue eggs are nasty-looking. Purple eggs make sooo much more sense.
The dish is pretty great. Bonus points: You dig into the egg and the poached yumminess drips into the top of the bread which has been soaking up the delish wine sauce from the bottom. The two meet in a glorious combination that can make you say, “Why don’t we always eat eggs and wine together?” And, a new brunch dish was born.
Seriously, Paul loved it… even the mushrooms which he is usually ambivalent about. And, yes, it is not the easiest poached egg recipe–especially for beginners. But, it is one of the tastiest.