Monday, June 25, 2012

Oeufs en Meurette (Eggs poached in red wine)

Eastside Road, June 25, 2012—
BACK IN THE ’60s I worked in San Francisco and commuted by bus, requiring me to walk a number of blocks between the old Transbay Terminal and KQED, then at the corner of Fourth and Bryant. This took me past a building occupied by a wine importer — I no longer remember their name — which occasionally hosted tastings for its buyers. (Among whom, I hasten to say, I was not included.)

One evening as I walked past I noticed the door was open and the party was clearly over. Curious, I stepped in. Empty bottles stood on the tables, and one tired-looking fellow was cleaning up.

I noticed the bottles were all Burgundy-style, the labels French, and asked if I might take them home, as in those days I made my own wine, and nice heavy empty bottles were useful. Sure, he said, and gave me a case of them.

Each bottle had an inch or two of dregs, and I took care not to lose them. A few days later I combined them all in a saucepan, poached a few eggs in the result, then made a Marchand de vin sauce. I don't recall where the recipe came from: probably Larousse Gastronomique.

Fifteen months ago we had friends over for a night of cassoulet — you may remember; I wrote about it here. One friend brought three bottles of Domaine Tempier Bandol, and ever since then our refrigerator has housed two bottles containing the dregs of those bottles. Yesterday another friend gave Lindsey a dozen eggs from her little flock of hens, and today she — Lindsey, I mean — did a little research, bought the other necessary ingredients, and made Oeufs en Meurette, a Burgundy specialty, but the Bandol worked just fine.

She used the recipe in Saveur Cooks Authentic French:
you cook chopped bacon in a little butter until crisp, remove it, then brown half a pound of sliced small mushrooms in the same pan. Remove them; then, still in the same pan, a little more butter, minced shallot, then coarsely chopped carrot, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf, until doré.

Then you add a couple of glasses of red wine, reduce it, and then a cup of demi-glace and a couple of cups of beef stock. After this has cooked you pass it through a food mill, then make a flour-and-butter roux and whisk the sauce into it.

Poach your eggs in red wine; meanwhile, add the bacon and mushrooms to the sauce and correct the seasoning. Set the poached eggs on toast, nap them with the sauce, and garnish with chervil.

This was pretty damn good, I have to say. Rich, of course. Bistro fare, I suppose. Memorable.

Green salad afterward, of course; then a Galia melon, a little too early in the season.
Cheap Primitivo (Grifone, Puglia), 2010

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