Friday, October 1, 2010

eggs with potatoes and greens (oeufs vert-pre)

I like to learn new things--hence this blog, and also copious link lists of things to read, printouts of journal articles in my work bag, CDs with new languages on it, and stacks of books next to the couch. I guess it's good practice to learn something new each week. What will it be this week? Poaching eggs. The proper way.

I have a silicone poaching gadget (which makes the process quick and oh, so, easy). But the real way seemed like an intriguing skill to master. Turns out, it's not that hard.

Start with a large pot of boiling water and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, and the eggs lined up, ready to go in. I got the three eggs shelled into our espresso cups next to the hob. Add them one at a time and use a spatula or spoon to scoop the trailing egg whites onto the centre of the yolk. Hover overhead, using the spatula to keep the egg from sticking to the side of the pan and in one compact clump. After exactly three and a half minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the egg to a bowl of warm water or a plate with a clean tea towel on it. Three and a half minutes is the perfect time for a slightly runny yolk--just the way Anthony and I like it.

This French dinner is the perfect way to turn poached eggs into a nice meal. Baked potatoes are topped with poached eggs, some bechamel sauce, and Permesan cheese, surrounded by lightly cooked greens. (Spinach is called for in the French version of this dish. For me, it's baby bok choy.) Delicious from start to finish--simple ingredients that combine to an elegant dish. Poaching eggs has been a skill worth learning.

Oeufs Vert-Pre
adapted from I Know How to Cook
serves 3

3 equally sized waxy potatoes
30 g butter
1 T flour
100 ml milk
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
25 g sharp cheese (Gruyere, if possible)
125 g greens, such as spinach or baby bok choy
3 T white vinegar
3 eggs

First, prick the potatoes all over. Bake them at the hottest oven setting until tender, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, "bake" them in the microwave by microwaving on high for about 15 minutes, turning after every 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a bechamel sauce: Melt 10 g butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk for several minutes to make a paste.
Add the milk and whisk constantly for several more minutes, until the sauce thickens, 5-10 minutes. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
Add half the cheese, whisking, and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

Melt 10 g butter in a pan and then add the greens. Cook, tossing frequently, for 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Remove from the heat.

Next, poach the eggs: Add 1.5 liters of water to a pan along with the vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Have the eggs ready by cracking them into cups or bowls. Add one egg to the water gently by letting it slide in; use a spoon to fold the egg white over itself to keep it contained. Cook for exactly 3 1/2 minutes, then remove the egg using a slotted spoon. Place the egg on a clean tea towel to drain, or keep warm in a bowl of warm water with 1 t salt per 1 L water.
Poach the other two eggs one at a time.

Slice the potatoes in half and remove the flesh to a bowl, keeping the skins intact.
Add 10 g butter to the potato flesh, and mash with a fork.
Place 3 potato skins in an oven-proof dish, then scoop some mashed potatoes into them. Top each with a poached egg, and surround the skins with the greens.
Top the eggs with bechamel sauce, and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese.
Place under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, until bubbly.

And even if you just eat the poached eggs on toast, you can be proud of learning a new thing this week. What will you learn next week?


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