Must eat

Food plays a big part in our lives, and some of the simplest dishes can be turned into a culinary surprise. Our choice of recipe this time around takes the humble poached egg and turns it into an indulgent brunch or starter. 
How to make Oeufs en Meurette.
Oeufs en Meurette.

We asked one of our own Robert Thom and his wife Jenni for advice on how they prepare this classic Burgundy dish. Their recipe follows the traditional version of poached egg on crispy garlic toast, covered in a Burgundy wine sauce.

• 1 bottle of Burgundy Pinot Noir red wine.
• 1 clove garlic crushed and finely chopped.
• Unsalted butter to sauté and a cube (3cm2) for the sauce (beurre manié)
• Diced button mushrooms or cèpe mushrooms if available.
• 2 slices of thick smoked bacon cut into lardons
• 15 pearl onions peeled or small pickling onions
• 1 tsp (teaspoon) of sugar
• Fine sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp (tablespoons) of flour for thickening (beurre manié)
• 4 slices of white slightly toasted bread (good quality dense bread)
• 4 large fresh eggs
• Chopped flat-leaf parsley and chives.

And after 20 years of sampling the dish across the region, Robert and Jenni have a few ideas on how to spice it up by adding:

• Dijon Mustard – one teaspoon of madras flavour if available gives an exciting taste.
• Yellow mustard seeds – half a teaspoon
• Black Onion seeds - 2 teaspoons
• Half a teaspoon of tomato puree
• A few grinds of mixed peppercorns – black, white, red.

Cooking is relatively simple:

For the eggs: Put the wine into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to softly boil for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol. Poach the eggs in the simmering wine until the whites are set and the yolks soft and to your liking. Remove the eggs from the wine and put immediately into the ice bath.

Strain the wine through a fine sieve and then return to the saucepan. Continue the reduction process slowly over low heat by two thirds.

For the beurre manié: In a small bowl, knead 1 tbsps of softened butter with the flour to combine. Put aside in the fridge or a cool place. This process is not exact, and you may have to add butter and flour to achieve the right consistency.

For the bread croutons: Options, use one slice per portion or cut into smaller croutons. The whole slice is our preferred option.
Heat 2 x tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan, add the crushed garlic (and the mustard and onion seeds if you want that extra kick) and then add the bread to soak up all the ingredients of the pan. Cook slowly until the bread is golden brown but not too hard. Keep to one side.

The garnish for the sauce: Add a tablespoon of butter and start the sauté process by adding the mushrooms over a brisk heat until their juices have evaporated. (Here you can add a touch of Olive Oil to stop the butter from burning). Season and remove to a plate. Next, add the lardons and pearl onions to the pan with a bit more butter and olive oil if needed. Cook slowly until the lardons are lightly browned and the onions cooked through. Return the mushrooms to the pan. Sprinkle over the garnish a small pinch of sugar.

Finish the sauce
by whisking the beurre manié into the bubbling reduced wine a bit at a time whisking all the while and incorporating more until you have a sauce which coats a spoon nicely. Add the reduced wine, Dijon or Madras mustard, and a small amount of tomato puree.

Last minute before serving: Re-heat the eggs in warm slightly salted simmering water with a dash of red wine.

To Serve: Warm 6 shallow bowls of your choice.

Place the soaked fried bread in the bottom of each bowl. Place the garnish around and on top of the crouton and place the egg on top. Spoon the sauce over the egg. Season with a grind of mixed/coloured pepper, finely chopped parsley and chives, and serve immediately.
For a slightly more substantial meal use two eggs per serving. And there you have it. Oh, and by the way, a Burgundy Pinot Noir will happily do the job of accompanying this delicious dish… Bon Appetit!