Monday, February 07, 2011
Aromatic Broth with Peas, Potatoes and a Poached Egg
I saw this recipe on Orangette and decided it looked good, but it sure took me a long time to try it. I think I was partly intimidated by the aromatic broth (but there’s really no reason to be, it’s incredibly easy), and partly because even though I love poached eggs, I had never made any before. I had to use dried thyme instead of fresh one, because believe it or not, our grocery store was out of fresh thyme. The fingerling potato I used was a Ruby crescent; I just liked the way it looked, but any fingerling potato works well here. I added a cup of water to the broth, it needed it at the end (the quantities here reflect that). This recipe makes 3 servings. At first, I thought that was an odd number (no pun intended), but it turns out it’s perfect, because that made 2 servings for dinner (for the Engineer and myself), and then I had the last serving at lunch the next day (the Engineer was at work). Toast the bread and poach the egg only when you’re ready to eat, as you’re rewarming the broth. I wasn’t sure which utensils to use for serving this dish, so I put forks, knives and spoons on the table: the Engineer used a fork and knife, while I preferred a spoon and a fork.
I poached three eggs for this recipe (two the first night, one the next day), and you see them in order at the end of the post. The third one was perfect! My method was an amalgam of what I had gleaned online, on television and in Julie and Julia for the third try. Start by putting water in a pot and add one or two tablespoons of vinegar, then get the water to simmer (you want some bubbles, but not a hard boil). Crack each egg into a cup, then put the bottom of the cup into the water. Gently, but quickly, turn the cup so that the egg ends up the water all at once. To get a better shape, use a spoon to gently gather the white of the egg around the yolk (that’s from Julie and Julia). You can poach two or three eggs at the same time; once they’re done, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in a pot of warm water: this helps remove the vinegar and keeps them warm until you are ready to serve them.
For the bouquet garni
1 2-inch piece celery
1 small Turkish bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig, about 3 inches long
1 fresh Italian parsley sprig, about 3 inches long
4 black peppercorns
1/8 tsp slightly crushed fennel seeds
For the broth
3 cups water
2 Tbsp good-quality olive oil
3 slices baguette, preferably day-old, each 1 inch thick
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
½ lb waxy potatoes, such as fingerling, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
5 oz frozen peas (not thawed)
¾ tsp salt
a few grinds black pepper
3 large eggs, poached
First, make the bouquet garni. Cut a rectangle of cheesecloth measuring about 8” by 16.” Fold it in half to make a double-thick 8” square. Place the celery, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and fennel seeds in the center; then gather the cheesecloth around the herbs like a little bag. Tie the mouth of the bag with cotton kitchen string, making sure that it is securely closed.
Place the bouquet garni in a medium saucepan with the water, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat ½ Tbsp oil in a heavy saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the baguette slices, and toast, flipping once, until golden, a few minutes. Transfer the bread to a plate or cutting board. Add the remaining 1 ½ Tbsp oil to the skillet, along with the onion. Cook the onion over medium heat, stirring regularly, until it softens and begins to look translucent. Add the potatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes.
Add the garlic, peas, salt, pepper, and hot water with bouquet garni. Cover the skillet, and simmer the mixture until the potatoes are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.
Pour a small ladleful of broth, potatoes, and peas into each of 3 bowls. Place 1 slice of toasted bread atop the broth and vegetables in each bowl, and place 1 egg atop each slice of bread. Divide the rest of the broth and vegetables among the bowls. Serve immediately, with additional salt and pepper for the eggs.