Sunday, December 19, 2010

Daring Cooks December 2010: Poached Eggs

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.
I made the following Oeufs en Meurette recipe for my family when I was home over Thanksgiving.  Halving it did not serve 4 people very well.  However, it was fantastic and great use of a bottle of wine that my family deemed a dud.  My dad wanted to throw the wine away but it turned into a great sauce.  Even my brother said that the meal was good, which is a very rare occurrence.  I served the wine soaked veggies with the meal, since they were tasty and even my brother ate them.  I thought it would be a waste not to serve them.  i did however have trouble poaching/presenting the eggs.  They did not look as pretty as eggs in pictures always do, but they were cooked perfectly.  I still need to get better at keeping the whites together.  I even swirled the liquid and followed all recommended techniques.  And then when we were trying to photograph, the eggs slid out of the whites and made for less pretty pictures.  But it was already pretty ugly due to the color of the wine.  That's okay, it tasted good and the eggs were perfectly done.  It was altogether a good meal.
Oeufs en Meurette
If you wish to halve this recipe, make sure to adjust your large shallow pan size accordingly so that you have enough depth for poaching your eggs. The poached eggs and the meurette sauce can be made up to a day in advance. Just take care store the poached eggs in a bowl of water in the fridge, and the meurette sauce can be easily reheated.
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
*for gluten free make sure to use gluten free stock and gluten free flour
‡ for vegetarian use vegetable stock, and omit bacon.
° for dairy free use a dairy free margarine.
Other notes on ingredients:
• You can use salted or unsalted butter, you will just have to adjust your “salt & pepper to taste” accordingly. I use unsalted.
• As this is a Burgundian dish, a full-bodied red wine like a pinot noir is a great wine to use for this dish. Anne Willan recommends a fruity red wine and I personally love the way a bold pinot noir works with this sauce, though you certainly can use whatever you like best. She also notes that you can make ouefs au mersault. Mersault is the famed white wine region of Bourgogne, and is generally made using chardonnay grapes, so it would be ok to choose a white wine if you want (though I have never tried it with white). No matter what wine you choose, make sure it is not too dry nor too sweet.
• To make a bouquet garni, just take the herbs (a few sprigs of each) and tie them together into a little bundle. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.

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