OEUFS EN MEURETTE
3 ounces thick, really fatty bacon*
12 pearl onions
1 small onion
½ celery stalk
1 garlic clove
5 cups water
¼ teaspoon pepper
12 ounces red Burgundy wine
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf**
5 springs parsley**
2 sprigs thyme**
2 tablespoons butter (2 additional tablespoons later)
3 tablespoons flour
4 slices white bread (¼” thick)
2 tablespoons butter
Makes 4 servings. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes.
* = How do you look for fatty bacon? It’s easy! Simply go to your supermarket and pick the package of bacon that has been tossed to the side, the one where the little flaps have been torn open. That’s the bacon for you. Or . . . buy any package of bacon and cut off all the fatty sections. Save the lean bits for future breakfasts. Your kids, family, and friends will love you for it.
** = This ingredients comprise bouquet garni or bouquet garnish. Now impress your friends with your culinary knowledge. Walk with pride.
Cut bacon crosswise into ¼” wide strips. Cut off tops and bottoms of pearl onions. (Do not remove skins.) Dice onion. Thinly slice celery and shallots. Crush garlic. Add water to pot. Bring water to boil using high heat. Add pearl onions to pot. Boil for 1 minute. Remove pearl onions and set aside. Save oniony water to poach eggs.
While water comes to boil, add fatty bacon strips to pan. Fry using medium heat for 3 minutes or until bacon starts to brown. Stir frequently. Remove bacon strips and place them on a plate covered by paper towels. Keep bacon grease in pan. Remove skins from pearl onions. Place pearl onions in pan. Sauté on medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until they soften and turn golden brown. Stir frequently. Remove pearl onions and set aside. Keep bacon grease in pan.
Add diced onion, sliced shallot, and pepper to pan. Sauté for 5 minutes at medium-high heat or until onion and shallot soften. Stir frequently. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic. Sauté for for 1 minute or until you can smell the garlic. Add wine, beef stock, celery, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half.
While sauce reduces, add 2 tablespoons butter and flour to bowl. Smash together with fork. This is called beurre manié. (Don’t confuse beurre manié with beurre manic. You don’t want to know what manic butter is. Even I don’t want to know.) Add this to pan. Mix with whisk. Simmer on low-medium heat for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally. Add beurre manié to pan. Simmer for 3-to-5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally. Strain sauce through colander into bowl.
While sauce still reduces, bring oniony water in pot to boil using high heat. (You did save the oniony water, didn’t you?) Crack eggs into a large ladle. Gently place eggs in water one at a time. Poach the eggs for 3-or-5 minutes, depending on your preference for soft or hard eggs. Remove pot from burner. Add fatty-bacon strips.
Now make the croûtes, a fancy French work for bread crusts. Use a round cookie cutter, about the size of a poached egg, cut the 4 bread slices into 4 circles. Add 2 tablespoons butter to pan. Melt using medium heat. Add bread circles to pan. Sauté bread for 1-to-2 minutes on each side or until browned Add a croûte to each plate. Use slotted spoon to remove poached egg from pot. Place egg on top of croûte. Ladle ¼ of the sauce onto the egg. Garnish with ¼ of the pearl onions. Repeat for each croûte.
1) A small kitchen is a kitchenette. A small pipe is a pipette. So, a small mural should be a muralette. But it isn’t. It’s a meurette. We can all blame the French impressionist Paul Gauguin for this.
2) Monsieur Paul was a painting maniac. He literally painted every moment he was awake. When he was full of vim and vigor and ate this recipe, then called oeufs en vin, he painted outside with his friend Vincent van Gogh. Paul and Vincent would talk about brush versus finger painting, the local babes, and fantasy baseball leagues. Yes, they were visionaries in matters outside of the arts as well.
3) However, on days when Paul had been consuming vat after vat of wine, it was hard for him to get out of bed, pick up his easel and paints downstairs, and head to the fields. Indeed, he even found it difficult to head down to the breakfast table. On these occasions, the owner of La Meur would bring a plate on runny, fried eggs to Paul’s bed. But even with a throbbing wine induced migraine, Paul had to paint. He’d just prop himself up on one elbow, dip his hand into the runny yolks, and fingerpaint on a mural on the wall. He did a great job! Wealthy art lovers came from all over France to admire his little murals.
4) Since Paul had no money to pay for his room and board, he sold the rights to his little murals to La Meur’s owner. This and the fact that Paul drank wine heavily and painted with runny eggs, made the renaming of oeufs en in to oeufs en meurette inevitable. And if you wish, you can go to the Gauguin room at the Louvre in Paris and see Monsieur Paul Gauguin’s walls covered with one finger-painted egg mural after another. Be sure to spend some looking at his most famous one, Le Chaton d’Or.
– Chef Paul
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