*HOW TO POACH AN EGG*
1. Fill a large skillet about two-thirds full with water, to a depth of about 2 inches. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Bring the water to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. There should be plenty of little bubbles along the bottom of the pan, and the surface of the water should be barely trembling. When in doubt, err on the side of hotter water.
2. Crack an egg into a teacup or a small custard cup. Holding the cup upright, lower the base into the water, and then, slowly and gently, twist your wrist to turn the egg out into the water. You’re essentially twisting the mug out from under the egg. Don’t hold the mug in the water for too long, or the egg will cook to the inside of the mug.
3. Disturb the water as little as possible, and allow the first egg to settle a bit before adding a second one. Depending on the size of your skillet, you could probably poach up to three eggs at a time.
4. Cook each egg for 3 to 4 minutes, until the white is opaque from the edges right up to the yolk. You can also gauge doneness by lifting the egg in a slotted spoon and gently prodding it with your finger: the white should feel firm and set, but the yolk should still jiggle. If the egg sticks at all to the bottom of the skillet—that happens sometimes—use a spoon or spatula to gently release the egg from the bottom of the pan.
If you need to poach a lot of eggs and can’t do it all at once: While you’re heating the water in the skillet, fill a large bowl with very warm (but not boiling) water. As the eggs finish cooking, drop them into the bowl. They’ll stay warm while you cook the rest.
You can also poach eggs ahead of time and rewarm them just before serving. Instead of preparing a bowl of warm water, prepare a bowl of ice water. Cook the eggs a little less than you normally would, and drop them into the bowl. Just before serving, rewarm them in simmering water.
If your eggs are not so fresh, there will an loose outer layer of egg white surrounding a thick inner layer that gathers around the yolk. Strain off the outer layer before poaching by cracking the egg into a tea straining and straining it briefly. Hat tip to Cook’s Illustrated.
*SLIGHTLY SIMPLIFIED OEUFS EN MEURETTE*
Adapted from Taste: One Palate’s Journey Through the World’s Greatest Dishes, by David Rosengarten
For the croûtes:
4 slices of French bread, crusts removed, sliced 1/3 inch thick
For the sauce:
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. chopped bacon
6 Tbsp. chopped shallot
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 cups very young Beaujolais (or another fruity red wine)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 to 2 eggs per person, poached
1. Butter the bread on both sides. Warm a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bread until golden brown on the first side. Flip the bread, and cook until golden brown on the second side. Transfer to two serving plates.
2. To make the sauce, put 1 Tbsp. butter in a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon, shallot, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots just start to turn brown. Turn the heat to high, and add the Beaujolais and the bay leaf. Boil until the wine is reduced by about half. Add the chicken stock, and bring the mixture back to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter.
Put the poached eggs on top of the toasts, and then pour the sauce over them. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings