Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poach to Perfection

Once again, and it's funny more than sad, there are items on the to-do list that at least one of us really don't want anything to do with - that would be the poached eggs.  We survived!

We've poached before.  Certainly eggs, and on occasion fish.  Nothing to be scared of here, right?  We thought we'd give all 3 suggestions a go...

Oeufs en Meurette

We saw an Iron Chef battle where eggs were poached in some sort of red wine concoction.  We didn't for one second think that it was (or strongly based) on a fairly fancy and traditional dish.  Although poached eggs would mostly be thought of as a breakfast item, this dish sounded (and looked based on the pictures provided) to be hearty enough for a Dinner.  So dinner it was.

Nothing complicated in what is required from the recipe - if you don't count peeling those pesky pearl onions.  Trying to get all the steps to work together in a sensible time line was a bit harder.  No disasters by any stretch of the imagination, but the benefit of hindsight would ensure that next time around it would all run a bit smoother.

Can we get an egg to poach?  Sure!  Can we get the white cooked up nicely and the yolk just the right amount of runny?  Sure!  Can we get it to look pretty?  Absolutely not!  Poaching of eggs in our house happens often enough so that we can't call it a foreign process, but it's only ever been for us because they never quite look right.  It was hoped that the notes / thoughts / tips / results and general good karma from this month's post would help change that.  Alas, these eggs didn't look any better (and perhaps worse) than just about every previous attempt.  The red wine poaching did give them a fun color, and experience has taught us not to stress over the appearance so no tossing in the garbage and starting again here.

We like our wine and we're happy cooking with it but it's unlikely we've ever started by emptying a whole bottle (well, whole bottle less the glass for the chef) into the pan to get things started.  Now we can cross that off our bucket list...

The reducing part is where we found it a bit hard to get the timing right.  Nothing much happens for awhile, but as soon as you get distracted it's like all the reducing happened in those 2 minutes.  Also, the pot seemed a little crowded with the veggies added, but it thickened up and strained out just fine.  It is definitely a sauce worth the effort - rich, purple, thick, purple, tasty, purple...  We almost could have skipped the egg and just had a kind of 'biscuits and gravy' type dish, but it's a good thing we didn't because bringing the runny yolk into the mix made it even better.

It felt kind of odd to cook the eggs up, then have them hanging around on the counter waiting for the sauce to appear.  No harm done, just odd having always cooked an egg and sent it straight to the plate and then tummy...


Looked pretty good, but only after the eggs were covered up with the very yummy sauce and tasted oh so good.  We'll give a lot of the taste credit to the Pinot Noir used as the base of the sauce, but the crunch of the Toasty Bread helped too.

The decision to go as a Dinner Dish was definitely the right one.  It would have been just too much as a breakfast dish, but pretty cool looking if you were brave enough to serve it up for friends as a brunch, perhaps.

Eggs Benedict

Poached Eggs on Bread comes up at home about once a month, but nothing fancy and certainly not turning them into Eggs Benedict.  To be honest, if we didn't have to make our own Hollandaise we wouldn't have gone through this until the next time Poached Eggs felt like the right thing for breakfast.

Hollandaise is easy enough to put together, but all the Cooking Shows suggest it's also easy to 'break' if you try to rush it.  Therefore, it's a process that involves standing at the counter for awhile, patiently whisking away.  It's not hard work, but there was a brief consideration (and internal debate as to whether it would help or hinder) of grabbing our recently purchased stand mixer to help along.

The same Poaching problem as noted above for the Oeufs - correct amount of runny, incorrect amount of prettiness.  Again, no do over going on here!


It didn't break!  The Sauce that is...  Actually, the Eggs didn't break either (well, until cut into...), but even with all the tips, still a moderately ugly (from a visual point of view only) result.

Regardless of looks, it is fun to 'stab' into the egg and let the yolk spread it's goodness all over the place.

The Hollandaise tasted just like all the times we've had some form of Eggs Benedict at a breakfast joint.  Is it worth the time it takes to make?  Yeah, probably.  Do we want to take the time to add this to our Poached Egg breakfast every time?  Probably not.  If we're really up for a breakfast extravaganza we'll go out and have the professionals take care of us (and maybe cramp up their whisking arm?).

Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages

Well, this was something new.  Thanks to TV we seen cheese cloth being used many times but never had to add it to our shopping cart before.  We actually had no idea which section of the store to find it in - turns out it didn't have a section, just a random hanging aisle addition.  And Vital Wheat Gluten?  Huh?  Thanks to the Amazon link provided the picture gave us the clue of what to look for (and yes, we went to the baking section!).  We weren't confident our regular store would have it, but very certain our not-so-regular store would.  As it turned out, only one store required.

Easy enough to put together, and pleasant to the nose as the pine nuts toast, the garlic gets crushed and the tomatoes, onion and chili come together. 

When it's time to add the flour, it really does feel like you're making a bread.  Well, maybe not a bread but it absolutely is a dough. 

We didn't have any twine and didn't realize this until we had the 'dough' mixed up and the cheese cloth cut.  Our fix was to use thread which ultimately worked, but was very fiddly to get everything tied up nicely.  We have no doubt that the correct equipment would have made this part so much easier...


Technically, they tasted pretty good.  But, the texture was really hard to get past, quite chewy and almost bubble gum like in the stretchiness.  Technically, perhaps what it should be?  But just not what we think of when we think of sausage.  Perhaps something as simple as not calling them sausages may have been enough for us to be able to enjoy them a bit more?

We're kind of curious as to what we would have gotten had we baked rather than poached?  Without any yeast, probably a brick?  But something to ponder...

No idea what to do with our left over Vital Wheat Gluten...

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



Well, perfection is of course subjective, but it's pretty clear we didn't quite get perfect when evaluating the poaching of the eggs.  We're happy we actually made our own Hollandaise (although it's going to take a special occasion to get us to make it again) and very excited we got to poach Eggs in Wine.

It's quite possible we got the sausages perfect, but they're not something we'll be lining up to do again - emphasizing that taste wise, no dramas, but the texture didn't do it for us at all.


Jenn from Jenn Cuisine and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.