For the last few weeks I have been hoping, longing and praying for Spring to come. There was a point where I nearly believed my prayers were heard, as the days were getting a little warmer and sun came out much more than we’re used to seeing it here.
This happiness, however, was short lived, for this morning we woke in winter wonderland, a sight that would be so welcome on Christmas morning, but much unappreciated for end of February, when Spring should start knocking on the door.
Ok, so it’s missing a couple of more centimetres of snow to be a true winter wonderland, but you know what I mean.
It’s more appropriate for the beginning of winter, rather the end…
I think this poor soul agrees with me…
On such days there are but a few options: to adapt the French manner of complaining about the poorly chosen geographical zone to live in, or to cook something deeply comforting and essentially French.
Taking the above description into account, beouf bourguignon, my favourite dish of all time, would be the first choice, but alas, to have it ready for Sunday lunch, I’d have to start cooking way before breakfast or the night before for best results.
My second option, which still provides the wonderfully rich red wine sauce minus hours in the kitchen are les oeufs en meurette: poached eggs served on a toast with meurette sauce. A classic sauce from Burgundy, prepared in the same style as the basis for beouf bourguignon, but takes considerably less time. Combined with oozing egg yolk it’s delicious without being heavy, ideal for a lazy Sunday lunch.
The eggs can be poached by simply dropping them into simmering water, or if you’re in a mood for a fancy version you can poach them wrapped cling film.
Traditionally oeufs en meurette are served on a toast, but I’ve been crazy enough to mix bread at midnight and we had home baked sourdough bread with oats and flaxseed (recipe here), and no fancy baguette can beat home baked bread.
The rest is quite easy, you’ll need some kitchen basic like onions, carrots, celery and bacon!
Most recipes for oeufs en meurette would call for un-smoked lardons, or to blanch it for 1-2 minutes in boiling water, to get rid of the smoky flavour, but I find the “smokiness” such a welcome addition. It reminds me of childhood (nothing to do with France), when my grandfather would be prepping bacon and hams in the smoking chamber, by the time they were ready the smell of smoky meat would hang meters away, and whenever I now have to cook with bacon, my preference always lies with smoked variety.
If you’d order this dish in a restaurant, you’d probably get it with a strained silky smooth red sauce.
But the bacon and veggies cooked in red wine are so bloody delicious, it would be a crime, a sin to throw them away.
And this is my perfect lazy Sunday lunch.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 100 grams lardons
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- beef trimmings (optional)
- 2 cups red wine (500 ml)
- 1 cup beef stock (250 ml)
- 50 grams cold butter
- freshly grounded pepper
- 1 rosemary spring
- few thyme springs
- few parsley stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- bread, toasted
- In a deep sauce pan heat the oil and fry lardons on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the onion and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, add carrot and celery and cook for a few more minutes.
- Finally, pour in the wine and stock, season with black pepper and add bouquet garni.
- Bring the sauce to simmer and let it cook for 35-45 minutes. It should be reduced by about ⅔.
- Before serving, remove bouqet garni and whisk in the butter.
- To poach wrapped eggs, grease the cling wrap with a little oil to prevent the egg sticking to it.
- Then place the cling wrap in a small bowl and crack the eggs in it.
- Gather up the edges of the cling wrap twisting and assuring no air pockets remain. Tie the know as close the the egg white as possible. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Cook in boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Serve, 1-2 eggs per person on toasted bread (few minutes under a hot grill) with warm sauce!