Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.
Well, I though poaching eggs wouldn't be that difficult - but I was wrong. I did some trys with water and never managed to get a uniform egg. Everything was splattered in the pan. Luckily the ones poached in wine got just right. I chose the Oefs en Meurette (not the eggs Benedict) because I love the French cuisine (it's a Burgundian dish), but it confirmed all my prejudices about the French kitchen. It tastes exquisit but you need lots of time, lots of different kitchen equipment (at least three different pans) and patience because it's difficult. I got a satisfying result a the end although I didn't follow the recipe literally. Thanks to Jenn and Jill for that nice dish I will surely cook again!
Oeufs en Meurette
makes four portions (I halved it)
- 8 eggs (size is your choice)
- 1 bottle red wine (750ml/25 fl. oz.)
- 2 cups (400ml/16 fl. oz.) chicken stock
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf) *
- ½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3g) black peppercorns
- 2 Tbl. (30 ml/30g) butter
- ¼ lb. (115g) mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ lb (115g) bacon, diced
- 16 pearl onions, peeled (200g/7oz.)
- vegetable oil for frying
- 8 slices of baguette, ¼" (6mm) thick
- 2 Tbl. (30 ml/30g) butter, room temp.
- 2 Tbl. (30 ml/20g) flour
- salt and pepper
* Since the sauce will reduce for a while, it's ok if you don't have the fresh herbs - there will be time for flavor to come out of dried ones (for ex. fresh bay leaf may be hard to find). Alternatively, if you don't have a way to tie them, you could just add the whole sprigs/bay leaves to the sauce and then just make sure to remove them when the sauce is done reducing.
Heat wine and stock together in a large pan and poach eggs a couple at a time for 3-4 min. Yolks should be firming but still a little soft. Set them aside.Add the veggies, herbs, and peppercorns to the poaching liquid and let the sauce simmer until reduced to half volume. This will become the meurette sauce.
In a separate large skillet, melt 1 tbs. (15ml/15g) of the butter on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and then set aside. Add in another 1 tbs. (15ml/15g) butter and the bacon, frying until browned, then set aside on a paper towel. Turn down the heat to medium, add in the pearl onions and sauté until softened and browned. Then drain off the fat and add the bacon and mushrooms back to the pan and set aside off the heat for the moment. In a medium skillet, heat a few tbs. of oil and then fry the baguette slices until browned on each side. Add more oil as needed. Set the fried bread (croûtes) on a paper towel and then place on a baking sheet in an oven that is set to 200F/95C/gas mark 1/4 or whatever your lowest setting is to keep them warm.
Blend 2 Tbl. (30ml/30g) butter and flour together to form a paste of sorts that will be used as the thickener for the sauce. Whisk this into the reduction sauce until the sauce starts to thicken. Strain the sauce over the skillet of mushrooms, bacon and onions, and return the skillet to heat, bringing to a boil. Season with salt & pepper to taste, then set aside again.Reheat the eggs by placing them in hot water for a quick minute. To serve, plate a poached egg on top of a croûte, and then ladle some of the mushrooms/bacon/onions and sauce on top.
My notes: I did't used more than two pans - one medium one for poaching and reducing the sauce and one frying pan for the rest. First I started making the croûtes which I placed in the oven. Afterwards I fried the bacon, removed it, then fried mushrooms and onions together, put them together with the bacon in a casserole and placed it in the oven too. Than I used the same pan for making the roux (butter and flour-mixture) without cleaning the pan before - this kept all the flavours. I added the reduced wine to the roux (not otherwise) which helped to prevent lumps in the sauce.