Sunday, 5 January 2014

Oeufs à la bière - Poached eggs in carbonnade sauce

Oeufs en Meurette is a classic French bistro dish of poached eggs in a Burgundian (Meurette) sauce. It's a rich, eggy start to a meal which for me is usually followed up with a bloody steak and rustling fries. Around New Year in the Hungerlust family we always treat ourselves to a fancy steak and so, to recreate my favourite bistro meal I'm cooking my take on oeufs en meurette, Oeufs à la bière or poached eggs in carbonnade sauce. I've followed the classic meurette recipe but switched out the wine for a bottle of Leffe blonde. When this beer replaces wine in the sauce it begins to look a whole lot like a carbonnade, hence the name. After reducing the beer for the sauce it was extremely bitter and frankly weird, so I reached for the nearest source of sweetness, a bottle of golden syrup. A tablespoon of this was all that was needed to balance it out and the slight sweetness worked well with the bacon. A bottle of something a bit sweeter would have balanced the sauce a little better than the Leffe and sticking with a Belgian theme I would go with a dark abbey ale, a quadruple or a scotch style ale. 

Here's the recipe. It serves 4


200g chunky bacon lardons
3 shallots sliced
500ml Leffe Blonde or other (dark abbey ale, a quadruple or a scotch style ale)
A sprig of thyme
250ml chicken stock
25g butter
1 tablespoon flour
4 very fresh, free range eggs.
1 tablespoon of golden syrup (Or sugar, or honey)
Thick slices of crusty white bread
Salt and pepper
Dry fry the bacon in a non-stick pan so the fat renders out and the bacon gets nice and crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and leave it on some kitchen towel to drain off the excess fat. Reserve the bacon
Over a low heat fry the shallots in the remaining bacon fat in the pan. 
Boil the beer over a high heat in a large pan with a sprig of thyme until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and reduce by a further half.
Melt the butter and cook out the flour to make a roux. Blend the roux with a couple of tablespoons of the reduced beer and then mix it back in the to the pan of beer.
Add the onions to the beer and simmer for five minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and salt if required
Carefully poach the eggs in a large pan of water. Meanwhile rub the slices of bread with a little olive oil and toast in a griddle pan or under a hot grill.
To serve, place a piece of toast on the plate. Sprinkle the bacon pieces on and around the toast. Top with an egg and spoon a generous amount of the sauce on and around the toast.