custom cakes/cookies

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oeufs en Meurette

I've been neglecting my usual posting schedule these past couple of months for good reason: I bought a house. It was a huge decision that caused me a lot of anxiety as my friends, family and realtor can attest. But now that I'm (mostly) unpacked, I feel very much at home. My house is cozy and full of character and enjoys hosting friends around my teeny dining table, or by the wood-burning stove, or even in the sometimes band practice area designated in the basement. When the time is right, I'd like to turn the back yard into a permaculture oasis complete with compost and edible garden and keep chickens and bees...

In the meantime, I've been welcoming friends over to warm my new space. Last weekend, I served oeufs en meurette for brunch. Eggs poached in red wine may seem like an intimidating, high stress choice to make for company...but I had a trick up my sleeve: eggs can be poached in advance, held in chilled water, then slipped back into heated water to gently rewarm just before serving. In fact, this recipe requires that advanced prep because the wine that is the poaching liquid becomes a velvety-rich reduction sauce (meurette) to complete the dish. I could crack eggs and troubleshoot mishaps without an audience. Also, I could use technical "crutches" without judgment. It was not easy to gauge the cooking progress of eggs dropped into an opaque liquid, so I used a thermometer to ensure an appropriate simmer was maintained and a timer to keep me from getting distracted by other prepping tasks of peeling onions, slicing mushrooms, and chopping bacon for the accompaniments.

This is a good snowy weather dish. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it as well:

Oeufs en Meurette
Serves 8

8 eggs
1 bottle, full-bodied red wine (I used a Tempranillo)
2 cups chicken stock
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into three pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into three pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
Bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 TBS butter
¼ lb mushrooms, sliced
¼ lb bacon, diced
16 pearl onions, peeled
Vegetable oil for frying
8 slices of baguette, ¼-in thick
2 TBS butter, room temp
2 TBS flour
salt and pepper

1. Bring wine and stock to a boil in a large pan and then lower heat to maintain a strong simmer around 190°F. Poach eggs a couple at a time for 3-4 min. Yolks should be firming but still a little soft. Set them aside in a bowl of ice water.

2. Add the vegetables, 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 of the butter on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and then set aside. Add in another 1 TBS 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 tablespoons 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 whatever your lowest setting is to keep them warm.

5. Blend 2 TBS 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.

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.

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