Blog-checking lines: Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have never poached an egg. Oh, sure, I have one of those microwave egg poachers but that’s not the real deal, right? Neil is the expert egg poacher, so why would I need to learn that, right? Well, any decent cook should know how to poach an egg, so this challenge made me very happy; I was determined to get it right. Since I posted eggs Benedict fairly recently, I decided to go with the Oeuf en Meurette – eggs poached in red wine and served on toasted/ fried baguette with a mushroom, bacon sauce.
Oeufs en meurette has always both horrified and fascinated me. Sauce meurette is one of the classics of French country cooking, a dark concentrated sauce made from red wine, stock, and vegetables. The meurette sauce accompanies a poached egg, often poached in the wine (turning them a bit of a gory hue of purple) for extra flavour.
No, neither of the two eggs (my last two in the house on that day so no room for errors!) looked perfect and smooth – in fact they looked like little piles of meat when I placed them on the toasted baguette. Clearly, I need to work on my poaching technique…
The purple colour (and ugly egg if you are me!) is thankfully hidden by the rich sauce served on top the egg which is served atop a croûte of baguette. This dish is an excellent make-ahead one, since all the components (even the egg) can be made in advance, however it is a fairly complex recipe, not one to make in a hurry.
Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, seen on Epicurious
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.) (I did not use these)
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. (I simly toasted and buttered my baguette)
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.
As you can see from the top photo, despite the ugly factor of my egg poaching, the yolks were perfect. This was tasty and rich without being too much – definitely a lovely appetizer for a dinner party. Plus, now I have tried it, I see poaching is not that hard after all. Just need to work on the pretty factor! Thanks ladies for a fun and eye-opening challenge!