Oeufs en meurette
- Preparation and cooking time
- Takes about 1¼ - 1½ hours
- A challenge
- Serves 4 as an appetiser, 2 as a main course
- about 350ml fruity red wine
- 225ml chicken or veal stock
- 1 small onion , thinly sliced
- 1 small carrot , thinly sliced
- 1 stick of celery , thinly sliced
- 1 small garlic clove , crushed
- bouquet garni (see below)
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- 25g butter
- 85g unsmoked lardons
- 85g button mushrooms , quartered
- 8-10 small (sometimes called pickling) onions , peeled
- 4 slices white bread , cut 5mm/quarter inch thick
- thick oil for frying
- 2 tsp plain flour
- thumb sized piece of dark chocolate optional
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 fresh eggs
- 2-3 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- parsley sterns
- STEP 1
For the sauce, put the wine and stock in a large saucepan and bring to a vigorous boil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bouquet garni and peppercorns and boil until reduced by half (15-20 minutes). Strain the wine, pressing the vegetables to extract all the liquid, then set aside.
- STEP 2
While the wine is reducing, melt a quarter of the butter in a saucepan, add the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Sauté the mushrooms in with another quarter of the butter until tender (2-3 minutes). Remove and put with the bacon. In the same pan, gently sauté the onions for 10-15 minutes until crisp and tender, shaking the pan often so they colour evenly. Drain off the fat, return the mushrooms and bacon to the pan and set aside.
- STEP 3
Make the croûtes: using a round or oval cutter, cut the bread into 4 shapes just larger than a poached egg. Heat 5 mm/1⁄4in of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the bread croûtes in batches until brown on both sides (1-2 minutes per side). Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
- STEP 4
To thicken the sauce, crush the remaining 15g/1⁄2oz butter on a plate with a fork and work in the flour to form a soft paste – French cooks call this beurre manié. Bring the wine mixture to a boil and whisk in the kneaded butter a piece at a time, until the sauce becomes thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon (you may not need all the kneaded butter). Strain the sauce into the pan with the bacon, mushrooms and onions. Bring to a boil, taste and adjust seasoning, adding a piece of chocolate if you like.
- STEP 5
To finish the dish, reheat the sauce on the stove, and warm the croûtes in the oven. Bring the vinegar and 1.2 litres/2 pints of water to the boil in a large shallow pan. Break the eggs, one at a time, into the places where the liquid is bubbling, so the bubbles spin the eggs. Lower the heat and poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes, until the yolks are fairly firm but still soft to the touch. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and drain on kitchen paper. Trim off the stringy edges with scissors. Place the croûtes on warm serving plates, set an egg on each croûte and spoon over the sauce.