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A Very French Way to Poach an Egg

A Very French Way to Poach an Egg


To my thoughts, an egg completely poached is among the many nice, important pleasures of 1’s consuming life. The protein (the white) is fluffy and textured, formed by the currents of the water it has been cooked in. The fats (the yolk) is held in place, simply, by a skinny membrane, wanting like a bit of tropical fruit, and at all times a bit of stunning when it bursts beneath the tines of a fork. An egg poached is totally different from different egg preparations: it requires no grease for frying, no butter for scrambling, nothing in any respect moreover salt and pepper. Rarely is a meals that’s so easy additionally a lot enjoyable to eat.

In France, one variation entails poaching the eggs in pink wine as a substitute of water. The preparation is usually known as oeufs à la bourguignonne, “eggs in the style of Burgundy,” the wine area within the east of the nation, and traditionally the poaching liquid is among the native Pinot Noirs. It can also be known as oeufs en meurette, in reference to the sauce that’s made with the poaching liquid. A sauce meurette is delightfully unmodern and eccentrically satisfying. Traditionally, it’s served with freshwater fish of the area, which solely is smart (pink wine with fish?) when you recognize the opposite elements: onions, mushrooms, garlic, and smoked or cured pork stomach: i.e., bacon. Egg and a sauce meurette? Obviously an glorious brunch meals.

Many cooks put together the sauce and the eggs individually, simmering the wine in a single pot and, in one other, poaching the egg in water within the typical approach. You see this apply usually in eating places. It is especially a matter of kitchen effectivity but additionally considered one of aesthetics: the egg is dyed by the wine within the cooking. It doesn’t actually match the picture that comes to thoughts whenever you say, “I’ll have mine poached, please”—and, for some, the colour may be startling, particularly the primary time (pink wine plus egg white plus bulbous form equals an entity that appears not in contrast to a uncooked octopus). I consulted Russell Hone, a Scot who has lived half his life in Burgundy. Hone is married to Becky Wasserman, a famend wine exporter, and, till he retired, used to make the each day lunch for Wasserman’s workplace: sooner or later, a leg of lamb, say, with 100 cloves of garlic and cooked in a candy wine; the following day, possibly a pie with puff pastry, or coq au vin with morel mushrooms. (What are you able to say? It’s totally different in France.) He has additionally cooked and eaten extra eggs poached in wine than anybody else I’ve met. “It’s too fiddly to cook the eggs and the sauce separately,” he defined. “It’s a peasant dish. You can’t imagine a farmer using two pots.” The preparation, in his description, is simple: take a bottle of the native quaffable, scale back it with bacon and onions (“Mushrooms, sure, if you have them”), poach your eggs, spoon them onto a bit of fried bread, and pour the sauce on prime. If the wine is just too sharp—acidity can typically be a function of Burgundy—he sweetens the sauce with additional onions and garlic, or “even a little red currant jelly.” And the wine doesn’t have to be Pinot Noir. “I’ve made it with Côtes du Rhône”—the essential bistro wine made south of Lyon. (I discussed that I didn’t bear in mind seeing an oeuf en meurette once we lived within the metropolis. “Yes,” Hone stated, “the Lyonnais are too sophisticated to enjoy this dish.”)

Also, he added, don’t fuss with the sauce. In fancified bistro variations—“smart eating,” Hone known as it—the meurette tends to be lowered “to an intense dribble.” It must be extra soup than sauce, he informed me. “You eat it with a spoon.”

For my half, I take advantage of Beaujolais somewhat than Burgundy ($15 a bottle, if I can discover it; by no means greater than $20), and am pleased with a new-world Pinot for much less. But style it first—the flavors, good or dangerous, focus with the cooking. I additionally like my sauce extra lowered than Hone’s, solely as a result of the meurette’s deliciousness multiplies because it reduces. And I do typically cook dinner the eggs individually (quelle horreur!), however poached in wine, by no means in water.

For me, oeufs en meurette is a contented meals. Practice making it (I nonetheless am), and incorporate it into your Sunday routine. It additionally makes an ideally suited gentle supper. The French kitchen, at its greatest, has thriller and marvel and a bit of weirdness. Its soul is commonly present in extremely regional, rustically unique dishes like this one, which have been made by somebody’s guardian or grandparent or great-grandparent time and again, in a spot the place cooking is greater than a recipe and extra like a life.

Eggs Poached in Red Wine

Serves 4


  • 1 quart hen inventory or chicken-bone broth
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Four oz. lardons, i.e., cured stomach pork (poitrine, or pancetta, or bacon), cubed
  • ½ pound mushrooms (cremini, white, or wild unique), brushed, stems trimmed, and sliced
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, small-diced
  • ½ medium onion, small-diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and small-diced
  • 2 bottles fruity, brightly zesty pink wine, comparable to a Beaujolais, Bourgogne Rouge, or new-world Pinot Noir (there can be a lot left over to drink)
  • Splash of Marc de Bourgogne eau-de-vie (elective)
  • 2 or Three sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Baguette, sliced lengthy on the diagonal into eight items (any easy nation loaf will suffice)
  • Four eggs, ideally free-range and from a small farm, rinsed and at room temperature
  • Black pepper, to style
  • Red-wine vinegar, to style (elective)
  • Red-currant jelly or a candy fortified wine, like Port, to style (elective)
  • Salt, to style
  • Handful of parsley leaves


  • Straining spoon, ideally flat


1. Pour hen inventory right into a medium saucepan and produce to a boil, then flip down to a simmer, and scale back, uncovered. How a lot you scale back is a matter of style, however, for me, the inventory is at its most sweetly savory when it’s virtually syrup, about 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Place a medium saucepan over low warmth. Add olive oil after which the lardons, and cook dinner till the fats is rendered however not too crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside. Add mushrooms, increase warmth to medium-low, and cook dinner within the pork fats till mushrooms are totally softened and liquid is rendered, about 3 to 5 minutes. (I cowl the pan briefly.) Remove from saucepan and put aside.

3. Give the saucepan a wipe, add 2 Tbsp. butter, and let soften over medium-low warmth. Add shallot and stir, then add onion and garlic. Stir till creamy, however don’t brown. Add ⅔ bottle pink wine and produce to a boil. I add a completely elective shot of Marc de Bourgogne, the eau-de-vie of Burgundy, within the perception that that is what the country farmer of my desires would do. (Optional: fastidiously set combination alight to burn off the alcohol, a standard apply, however one which will make no distinction: most of it burns off through the lowering.) Add thyme and bay leaf, and cook dinner till lowered in quantity by greater than half, about 30 minutes. (The decrease the warmth, the extra time the liquid will take to scale back, however the higher the discount can be.)

4. Add the reserved lowered hen inventory to the saucepan and produce again to a simmer. Season with black pepper (no salt, owing to the salinity of the cured pork), and style. If not sufficiently tart, add a splash of red-wine vinegar. If too tart, add a spoonful of red-currant jam or a splash of Port. If you need to thicken or enrich barely, add 2 to 3 Tbsp. butter, one small piece at a time, whisking to incorporate. Add reserved lardons and mushrooms, stir, carry again to a simmer, and preserve sauce heat on the lowest doable warmth (it’s O.Ok. if it retains lowering).

5. Gently fry baguette slices in a sauté pan in fats. You are mainly making a big crouton. In France, the fats can be clarified butter (in order that it doesn’t burn). On a farm, it could be bacon or duck fats. Here, I like to recommend 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter, heated collectively over low to medium warmth till the fats foams. Add baguette slices and cook dinner till frivolously browned on the underside, then flip with tongs to brown the opposite facet. When performed, put aside.


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