Thursday, October 1, 2009

Poached Eggs with Tomato and Basil

It’s Saturday morning—you sleep in, wake up to the sun shining, and actually have time to make something nice for yourself for breakfast. But what to make? There are, of course, the classics: fried eggs with buttered toast and bacon, pancakes or French toast with sausage…but how about something a little more interesting?

After mastering the poached egg a couple of months ago, I’ve been experimenting with different versions of the traditional eggs benedict. One of my favorites is poached eggs atop an English muffin with slices of tomato and fresh basil. This dish has a light and fresh taste and won’t weigh you down like so many decadent brunch and breakfast items.

Poached Eggs with Tomato and Basil


Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1. The first step is to poach the eggs. This can be intimidating and might take a couple of tries to get it right, but it is worth it. I use Julia Child’s instructions for poaching eggs, which can be found in Mastering the Art of French Cooking or by searching on the internet.

Fill a pot with one inch of water and a splash of white wine vinegar and bring to a simmer—the water should really be barely simmering and definitely not boiling. Julia Child’s recipe states to crack the eggs as close as possible to the water and let them drop in and then quickly push the whites over the yolks with a wooden spoon. I don’t know how many hands Julia Child had, but this step is simply too complicated for the average cook to perform by oneself!

I recommend taking the egg and cracking it into a ladle. Holding the ladle in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other, carefully drop the ladle into the simmering water and let the egg slide off. With the wooden spoon gently push the egg whites over the yolk. I never know if I’m doing this step correctly so I basically just try to encourage the egg whites to stay close to the rest of the egg instead of wandering off into the water like a disobedient child at an amusement park.

Repeat this step with the other eggs.

2. After four minutes from the time the first egg was placed in the water, lift the eggs carefully out of the simmering water (I recommend using the ladle for this action—it’s less easy for them to slip off as they can do on a smaller spoon) and place them into a bowl of cold water. The cold water will stop the cooking and rinse off the vinegar.

If for some bizarre reason you want the yolks to be hard not runny, just let them stay in the simmering water for another minute or two.

The eggs can remain in the cold water for a while. Simply give them a quick bath in warm water to heat them up before serving.

3. Toast an English muffin.

4. Drizzle the English muffins with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

5. Place a large slice of tomato (or a couple of slices if the tomatoes are small) on the English muffin.

6. Cover with a few pieces of basil.

7. Place the eggs on top and sprinkle on little salt and pepper.

Voila! A delicious and nutritious breakfast.

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