Poached Eggs with Red Wine Sauce

Food & Wine - - 1978-1987 - ANNE WILLAN

had a dis­tinct French bent to it, es­pe­cially IN THE EARLY YEARS, F&W in the recipes. Anne Willan, founder of the pres­ti­gious École de Cuisine La Varenne in France, ex­pounded the virtues of cook­ing with red wine and shared a recipe for clas­sic oeufs pochés en meurette, a Bur­gun­dian prepa­ra­tion rem­i­nis­cent of eggs Bene­dict, with egg-topped but­tered toast rounds. In her ver­sion, Willan used red Bur­gundy to make a rich, glossy sauce stud­ded with bits of ba­con, which she spooned over the runny eggs. She didn’t in­sist on us­ing Bur­gun­dian wine, but she strongly ad­vised the cook: “If it is not fit to drink, it is not fit for the pot.” Tra­di­tion­ally the eggs for this dish are poached in red wine; it adds a bit of fla­vor, but the eggs take on a gray­ish-pur­ple color. This ver­sion calls for eggs that have been poached in wa­ter, then as­sem­bled with the red wine sauce at the end.

TO­TAL 1 HR 30 MIN; SERVES 8

2 cups wa­ter 1/4 cup veal demiglace (such as D’Artag­nan) 2 cups dry red wine (such as Bur­gundy) 1 cup chopped tomato 2 shal­lots, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup) Bou­quet garni: 5 flat-leaf pars­ley sprigs, 1 thyme sprig, and 1 fresh bay leaf, tied se­curely with butcher’s twine 1 (6-oz.) ba­con slab, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes (about 11/4 cups) 1 tsp. un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 1 tsp. all-pur­pose flour 1/8 tsp. kosher salt 1/8 tsp. black pep­per 8 poached eggs 8 white bread slices (such as Pep­peridge Farm), cut into 3-inch rounds and sautéed in but­ter and oil un­til browned 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf pars­ley

1. Whisk to­gether 2 cups wa­ter and demiglace in a large non­re­ac­tive saucepan over medium un­til demiglace dis­solves, about 2 min­utes. Stir in wine, tomato, shal­lots, and bou­quet garni. Bring to a boil over high; re­duce heat to medium-high, and sim­mer un­til re­duced by half (about 2 cups), 50 to 55 min­utes. Pour mix­ture through a fine wire-mesh strainer over a small non­re­ac­tive saucepan. Dis­card solids, and set wine mix­ture aside.

2. While wine mix­ture re­duces, heat a medium skil­let over medium-high. Add ba­con, and cook, stir­ring often, un­til lightly browned, 5 to 6 min­utes. Trans­fer to a pa­per towel–lined plate to drain.

3. Stir to­gether soft­ened but­ter and flour in a small bowl un­til smooth to make a beurre manié. Bring re­served wine mix­ture to a sim­mer over medium, and grad­u­ally whisk in beurre manié. Cook, whisk­ing con­stantly, un­til sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 min­utes. Re­move from heat; stir in cooked ba­con, and sea­son with salt and pep­per.

4. To serve, place 1 poached egg on each fried bread round; spoon about 21/2 ta­ble­spoons wine sauce over each egg. Sprin­kle evenly with pars­ley, and serve with re­main­ing wine sauce.

NOTE This dish can be made up to 8 hours ahead. If you have poached the eggs ahead of time, cover with wa­ter and re­frig­er­ate them sep­a­rately from the sauce. Be­fore us­ing the poached eggs, quickly im­merse them in a large skil­let of sim­mer­ing wa­ter un­til just heated through, about 1 minute. Re­move with a slot­ted spoon, and drain on pa­per tow­els. Wrap fried bread rounds loosely in foil and keep at room tem­per­a­ture.

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