- Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
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in a Red Wine Sauce
Oeufs en meurette
Sauce meurette is one of the grand classics of French country cooking, a dark concentrated essence of red wine, stock, and vegetables. You would expect it to be paired with the equally powerful flavors of meat or poultry, but nomeurette is unique in accompanying fish, or poached eggs, as here. For extra flavor, I like to poach the eggs in the wine, which is then used for the sauce; they emerge an odd purple hue, but this is later concealed by the glossy brown sauce. For poaching, it's well worth looking for farm-fresh eggs as they hold their shape better than store-bought eggs. Oeufs en meurette is a favorite restaurant dish, not least because it can be prepared ahead and assembled to order. However, most regrettably, it is not a dish to make in a hurry. All the elements can be prepared in advance, but the full glory of oeufs en meurette is ruined by trying to cut corners. WINE FOR COOKING For six months in the year, we live in northern Burgundy, where the local pinot noirs are inexpensive and appropriately light for this dish. Equally good for meurette would be a pinot from the northern end of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Avoid the "blockbuster" type of heavy pinots that come from the hotter climes of California and Australia. WINE TO DRINK To do justice to the richly flavored sauce, let's move up to something grander. A premier cru red from one of the villages in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune would do nicely, as would one of the more refined pinots from California's Carneros district.
8 fresh eggs
1 bottle (750 ml) fruity red wine
2 cups (500 ml/16 fl oz) brown veal
or chicken stock
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
a bouquet garni of thyme sprigs,
parsley stems, and a bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
salt and pepper
FOR THE GARNISH
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound (125 g/4 oz) mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound (125 g/4 oz) piece of bacon,
16 to 20 baby onions, peeled
FOR THE CROÛTES
8 slices of white bread,
1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
oil for frying
FOR THICKENING THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 To poach the eggs, bring the wine and stock to a vigorous boil in a large shallow pan. Break four eggs, one by one, into the places where the liquid is bubbling so the bubbles spin the eggs. Lower the heat and poach the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes until the yolks are fairly firm but still soft to the touch. Lift out the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Poach the remaining eggs in the same way. Trim off the stringy edges with scissors and set the eggs aside. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bouquet garni, and peppercorns to the poaching liquid and simmer until it is concentrated and reduced by half, 20 to 25 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, cook the garnish, melt half the butter in a medium saucepan, add the mushrooms, and sauté until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms, add bacon with the remaining butter, and fry until brown. Lift out the bacon and drain it on paper towels. Add the baby onions and sauté them gently until brown and tender, shaking the pan often so they color evenly, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off all the fat, replace the mushrooms and bacon, and set the pan aside.
3 Make the croûtes by using a round or oval cutter to cut the bread into 8 shapes just larger than a poached egg. Heat 1/4 inch (6 mm) of oil in a frying pan, over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the croûtes until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Set the croûtes aside.
4 To thicken the sauce, crush the butter on a plate with a fork and work in the flour to form a soft paste. Whisk this kneaded butter, a piece at a time, into the simmering wine mixture until the mixture becomes thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. Strain the sauce over the garnish of mushrooms, baby onions, and bacon, pressing on the carrot, onion, and celery to extract all the liquid and flavor. Bring the sauce to a boil, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
5 To prepare ahead, poach the eggs up to a day in advance, keeping them in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator. Store the sauce and garnish also in the refrigerator. The croûtes will be fine if kept tightly wrapped, then warmed in a low oven.
6 To serve, reheat the eggs by immersing them in hot water for 1 minute. If necessary, reheat the garnish and sauce on top of the stove, and warm croûttes in the oven. Set the croûtes on warm serving plates. Drain the eggs on paper towels, set one on each croûte, and spoon over the sauce and garnish.
* * *
Poached Eggs in
White Wine Sauce
Oeufs au meursault
A full-bodied chardonnay from California's Monterey peninsula or, to be somewhat extravagant, a meursault from Burgundy's Côte de Beaune is the sort of wine required here, particularly if you want to savor it at the table as well. If the wine is too dry and thin, the sauce will be acidic.
Simply follow the recipe for Poached Eggs in Red Wine Sauce, substituting white for red wine. Just before serving, stir 3 to 4 tablespoons of crème fraîche or heavy cream into the sauce.
Fondue simply does not work without white wine; its acid helps prevent the protein in the cheese from cooking into strings. The traditional cheese for fondue is nutty, well-aged gruyère, made in the Savoy area of the French Alps, and the traditional pot is a shallow earthenware saucepan called a caquelon. The mixture must be heated gently but steadily and stirred in a figure eight (say the superstitious) so that the cheese melts gradually. If a man drops his piece of bread into the fondue, he must buy the party a bottle; the penalty for women is a kiss all around. Other dry cheeses can be substituted for gruyère, such as aged domestic cheddar or Spanish manchego. WINE FOR COOKING Alight, dry white is needed here. One possibility would be a colombard from California, usually sold as a jug wine labeled French colombard. This grape is valued for its ability to retain a pleasing acidity in hot growing areas, providing a fairly crisp if simple winenot unlike those of Savoy. WINE TO DRINK You could continue with the colombard, or you might like to try a French sparkling crémant de Savoie made from the roussette de Seyssel grape.
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Butter for the pan
1 cup (250 ml/8 fl oz) light,
dry white wine
1 pound (500 g) gruyère cheese,
very coarsely grated
3 tablespoons kirsch
salt and pepper
1 baguette, broken into
small chunks (for serving)
1 Rub the inside of a caquelon or a heavy-based saucepan with the cut side of the garlic, then butter the pan. Add the wine and bring it to a boil over low heat. Stir in a handful of cheese and heat it gently, stirring gently but constantly with a wooden spoon. As the cheese melts, add more until all is melted and the fondue is smooth and creamy. If it is cooked too quickly or gets too hot, it will cook into strings.
2 Take the fondue from the heat, stir in the kirsch and pepper and tastesalt may not be needed. Set the pan over a fondue burner in the middle of the table and let the guests help themselves, spearing pieces of bread on special long fondue forks and dipping them into the fondue.
Mushrooms in madeira used to be the classic English savory, the zesty little ending to a traditional dinner, leading the way to after-dinner brandy and port. For me, it's now the perfect light dish, served on its own or with salad. WINE FOR COOKING AND TO DRINK The preferred tipple for George Washington and his contemporaries, madeira has faded from view as a drink, but it soldiers on in the kitchen. Here it is added just before serving, so its taste and bouquet dominate the sauce, an excellent reason to buy a good bottle for both cooking and drinking. Several California wineries make madeira, but for the real thing, stick with a bottle from Portugal.
4 round or oval crusty dinner rolls
3 tablespoons (45 g/1 1/2 oz) butter
1 pound (500 g) button mushrooms,
trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 cup (250 ml/8 fl oz) crème fraîche
or heavy cream
3 tablespoons sweet madeira
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C/Gas 4). For the croûtes, cut the tops off the rolls and hollow out the centers to make 4 bread shells, discarding the top and interior crumbs. Melt the butter in a frying pan and use about half to brush the insides of the rolls. Set the rolls on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until the edges are crisp and starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in the frying pan, add the garlic and shallots, and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the mushrooms with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring often, until tender and their juice has evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a boil, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until rich and slightly thickened. Take from the heat, stir in the madeira, lemon juice, and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Both the croûtes and the mushrooms in sauce reheat well, so you can prepare these up to a day ahead with no problem; keep the mushrooms in the refrigerator and the croûtes in an airtight container.
3 To serve, reheat the mushrooms in sauce and warm the croûtes in the oven, if necessary. Set the croûtes on warm plates and spoon the mushrooms and sauce into them. Serve at once, so that the bread is crisp and the mushrooms are piping hot.
QUICK FIX Use thick slices of crispy bread instead of croûtes, toasting them if you have time.
Snail Croûtes with
In the recipe for Mushroom Croûtes with Madeira, substitute 2 dozen cooked canned or frozen snails for the mushrooms. Make the croûtes as described. Sauté the garlic and shallot, add the cream with seasonings, and simmer the sauce 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the snails and simmer until very hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Take from the heat, and stir in the madeira with 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the warm snails in sauce into the 4 croûtes to serve.
Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
with Walnuts & Marsala
I often stuff mushrooms as a quick appetizer or accompaniment to roast chicken or fish. Although these mushrooms are simple and satisfying by themselves, you may, for a more substantial dish, perch them on a bed of soft polenta or a salad of bitter greens. These are just a few ideasI am certain that you will have many more. WINE FOR COOKING AND TO DRINK For the walnut stuffing, I would advise a marsala or one of the medium to sweet sherries. If the variation with garlic and herb stuffing appeals, substitute dry white vermouth or a dry white wine. What wine you decide to serve with the mushrooms will of course depend on what they accompany.
5 large portabella mushrooms,
with stems (about 1/2 lb/250 g)
1/4 cup (45 g/1 1/4 oz) walnut pieces
1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) marsala
or sweet sherry
1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) olive oil,
more for the dish
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
4 walnut halves (for decoration)
1 Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C/ Gas 5). Snap stems from the mushrooms and set aside. Peel the mushroom caps by gently stripping off the darker outer layer. Save these peelings. Trim the stems and chop them, together with the peelings and one of the whole mushroom caps. Chop the walnuts, mix them in a bowl with the chopped mushrooms, and stir in the marsala or sherry, olive oil, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
2 Oil a baking dish and add the mushroom caps, gill side up. Spoon the stuffing on top, piling it in the center but also moistening the edges of the mushrooms. Drizzle over any liquid left in the bowl. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the mushrooms are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. They will render liquid halfway through cooking, so continue cooking until this has evaporated. Serve the mushrooms hot or at room temperature. You can also make them ahead and reheat them if you likethey do fine.
Mushrooms with Garlic
In the recipe for Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms with Walnuts and Marsala, omit the walnuts and nutmeg. Sauté 2 finely chopped shallots and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves until soft in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix in the chopped mushrooms with 2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, salt, and pepper. Instead of the marsala, stir in 1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fl oz) dry white wine or dry white vermouth with 1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) olive oil and continue as directed.
Melon & Cherry
I always think melon is best when served as simply as possible, so this recipe has only three other ingredientstomatoes, basil, and a splash of vermouth. WINE FOR COOKING Given the fruity melon and tomato, a sweet red vermouth is needed here, the kind found in a manhattan cocktail. WINE TO DRINK Chilled rosé wine is a natural companion for melon, and the best still seems to come from Provence in southern France. If you are more adventurous, why not try a white vermouth on the rocks? Although the dry version is best known as the junior partner in a martini cocktail, there are also some charming sweet white vermouths.
1 pint (250 g/1/2 lb) cherry tomatoes
1 large melon
bunch of basil
1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) sweet red
vermouth, more to taste
salt and pepper
melon ball cutter
1 To peel the tomatoes, mark a small slash on the base of each tomato. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the tomatoes, and heat until the skin splits, 5 to 10 seconds. Quickly drain the tomatoes and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Strip off the peels and put the tomatoes in a bowl.
2 Halve the melon and discard seeds. Scoop out the flesh in balls and add to the tomatoes. Scrape and discard leftover flesh from the melon shells, and halve the shells to form 4 crescents.
3 Strip leaves from basil stems, reserving 4 sprigs for garnish. Finely shred the leaves (chiffonade) and add to the fruit.
4 Stir vermouth into the fruit, with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar if you feel it is needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate the fruit, with the melon shells kept separately, for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
5 To serve, set the melon shells on plates and pile fruit in the shells, spooning over the juice. Top each with a basil sprig.
QUICK FIX Halve the tomatoes without bothering to peel them. You will have a few seeds straying among the melon balls, but the flavor will not be affected.
Red Wine & Black Pepper
Yeast accentuates the pepper in these lively crisp breads, which make an attractive addition to the bread basket. The thinner the dough is rolled, the crisper the breads; I like to use a pasta machine, cutting triangles from each strip of rolled dough. Crisp breads are ideal with cheese and a glass of wine or a bowl of soup. Try them, too, with Potted Stilton Cheese or Double Chicken Liver Pâté. If you store them for more than 24 hours, recrisp them by drying in a low oven. WINE FOR COOKING Provided it is not too sweet, any dark rich red wine is good here, so don't hesitate to use up that leftover half glass.
1/3 cup (75 ml/2 1/2 fl oz) full-bodied
1/3 cup (75 ml/2 1/2 oz) buttermilk
2 tablespoans (30 g/1 oz) butter
2 teaspoons (7 g/1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (175 g/6 oz) flour,
more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
MAKES 50 TO 60 CRISP BREADS
1 Warm wine, buttermilk, and butter in a small pan until tepid and the butter is melted. Take from the heat, sprinkle the yeast over the liquid, and leave it until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the dissolved yeast mixture and stir, gradually drawing in the flour to make a smooth, soft dough. If sticky, work in a little more flour.
2 Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it, pushing away with the heel of your hand and drawing it together in a ball, until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If you prefer, the dough can be mixed and kneaded in an electric mixer with a dough hook. After kneading, shape the dough into a ball and drop it into an oiled bowl, turning so the top is oiled also. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3 Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C/Gas 5) and lightly oil 2 or 3 baking sheets. Turn the dough onto a generously floured work surface and work it lightly to knock out the air. Divide it into 3 or 4 portions. Roll a piece of the dough through the pasta machine, using the widest setting. Fold it and roll again. Continue rolling 6 to 8 times, exactly as for pasta, until the dough is very firm and elastic. Continue rolling, adjusting the roller settings downward, until the dough is very thin. Cut the dough strip into long, pointed wedges and set them on a baking sheet.
4 Prick the dough with a fork all over so the crisp breads will rise evenly. Bake them in batches, one baking sheet at a time, until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer them to a rack to cool. Roll and bake the remaining crisp breads in the same way.
Excerpted from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan. Copyright © 2001 by Anne Willan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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