Oeuf Poché à la Bourguignonne

We got the Friday off from school. I can only imagine we did so because we’re going to get roasted well next week when we have our first lunch and dinner service as well as the Normandy menu. So what do a bunch of culinary kids do on their day off? We go to the Agricultural Expo and walk about for hours tiring ourselves further nibbling on sausages, tasting wines and beer, and gorging on ice cream.

This exhibition was ginormous. Absolutely massive. There were eight sections of which we only explored two in six hours – The Regions of France and Horses, Dogs and Cats (what the latter was doing at a food and drink expo is a mystery to me). There was cheese, wine, and meat from all parts of France (some yum, some yukh) and insects from Limousine. They have cheese and meat in Limousine too…so why do they munch on insects?

Agriculture Exhibition

Almost everyone I know has a trick for poaching eggs. Lemon juice, vinegar, simmering salted water, whirlpooling and what not. I’ve watched Gordon Ramsay on The F Word poaching an egg so effortlessly and perfectly, he made it look like any half-witted monkey could do it. But yesterday at school we were taught how to poach an egg, in a dark coloured red wine stock without the aid of a whirlpool. It did not result in the perfectly pristine white poachies Ramsay whipped up within minutes.

The red wine liquide de cuisson (cooking liquid) with thyme and bay leaves smelt really good but made the eggs look a bit manky. It didn’t quite colour all of the egg, which would’ve been pretty. Deep purple eggs with orange gooey centres…that’d work. Instead it stained thready bits and left scummy uneven marks around the eggs. I plunged them into ice-cold water after boiling for 2.5 minutes and tried giving them a bit of a gentle scrub but it did more harm than good.

The Chef instructed us to manipulate the cooking temperatures – once the egg has been dropped in, turn the heat up to a harder simmer so that the egg doesn’t drop to the bottom of the pot. The acidity from the bottle of red wine should’ve helped bind the eggs. It didn’t do too great of a job at that. In any case, it’s impossible to see what the egg’s up to once it’s in the deep dark liquid.

After six tries I hit jackpot with a decent looking, not-too-veiny, egg that I trimmed and scrubbed gently into decency. Now onto the Bouguignonne sauce.

We used powdered stock as there would not have been any time to do a brown veal stock. I reduced my red wine liquide de cuisson down to nothingness and realised I ran out of time. So I cheated. Instead of a whole litre of stock I only put in half and let that reduce with the red wine reduction. In hind-sight this was a much better plan as it would result in a less saline sauce.

Oeuf Poché à la Bourguignonne

This is probably pretty close to the perfect breakfast egg dish. It’s got bacon lardons, sautéed muckers, caramelised sweet onions, crispy crouton, and a gooey poached egg all in one. Why don’t more breakfast places offer this instead of the standard, run-off-the-mill (but still oh-so-very-good) eggs benedict?

Oeuf Poché à la Bourguignonne

4 eggs, poached (use any method that works for you. I still think whisking in a whirlpool is the best way but dropping it into a slow simmer and then cranking the heat up a bit to a harder simmer works okay. Just trim off any ugly bits. Oh and cook for 2.5 mins and then plunge into ice cold water to eliminate any risk of over-cooking)
3 litres water, boiling
1 litre red wine
1 litre veal stock (if using powdered stock I’d be very very careful of how much. They’re almost always too salty)
2 bay leaves
Few springs of thyme
5 mushrooms, small pretty pieces
Bacon lardons
4 small onions, peeled (Soak in warm water for a few minutes for easy peeling)
Sugar
Chives, finely chopped
Salt, pepper

1. Bring 3 litres of water to the boil. Add in all the red wine, bay leaves and thyme. When simmering drop in the eggs and increase the heat so that it’s a harder simmer. Cook for 2.5 mins. Remove, plunge in ice-cold water. Reserve. Skim off scum from the top of the cooking liquid. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce liquid down to a syrup. Add in stock. Reduce again till down to a saucy consistency. Pass through chinois. Reserve
2. Place onions in a sautee pan with a pinch of sugar, salt and water. Cover with parchment paper and cook till caramelised
3. Blanche bacon lardons in cold water to remove any muck. Blot dry. Sautee them and sear the sides in hot oil. Reserve. Do not clean the pan just yet.
4. Sautee mushrooms in bacon lardon fat. Add in a bit of butter if there isn’t much to go around
5. Cut out 7cm circular croutons out of bread (white sliced works) and fry them till golden brown (this only takes a few seconds on each side in medium hot oil)
6. Re-heat the eggs in boiling water for 30 seconds. Re-heat the mushrooms and lardons in the red-wine-and-stock sauce. Place egg on crouton. Spoon over some sauce. Serve with caramelised onions and garnish with chives

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