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Ahh brunch; meal of Kings, Sunday Layabouts and, in the case of my source for this recipe, Presidents. French Presidents to be exact, President François Hollande to be more exact.

Oeuf Poche Meurette is a dignified and staunch classic French dish. Translating as ‘eggs poached in red wine’ it is the dreamy concoction of butter sauteed mushrooms, crisp lardons of bacon, caramelised shallots, fried country bread, even more butter and, yes, eggs poached in red wine with a red wine reduction. Plus more butter. Oh and did I forget, more butter?
Ahh, on slicing into the egg rich, orange yolk bursts out, running into burgundy deep sauce, soaking into buttery, chewy country loaf. Salty bacon dancing in, earthy intense mushrooms, sweet, sweet shallots. More than enough to make me quiver to my very bones. Not even because I’m dying of coronary failure either. Hopefully you’ll like it too. Because really; what could be more perfect? Really.

The provenance of this dish’s appearance on my plate came from a most exciting encounter. For the other week’s #InGoodTaste @Z1Radio show we were invited along to Le Gavroche in Mayfair, London to interview legendary chef and (sometimes) cheery face of Master Chef Professionals, Michel Roux Jr. Incidentally, writing this oh-so-casually – god, I’m a name dropping twat – portrays a cool that was oh-so-certainly not felt. A dribbling mess, I’m surprised his PA even let me through the entrance – the man has been my idol since I was a child. Check out the barely suppressed hysteria in my voice on the clip, quite funny in hindsight.
ANYWAY, it was Chef Michel who told us about this dish and of how he used to cook it for President Francois – who used to eat it for breakfast! Nor was I about to ignore his advice – I stomped off immediately to Balham market to pick up the ingredients and wa la – eggy, wine’y wonderfulness served on a plate. Thanks, Chef. What a babe.

In a bid to be more civilised, more British less French *ho ho*, I am converting it to a brunch dish, as oppose to breakfast. Eat it later in the day if you like, just do eat it – it’s a dream. And if you want to listen to the show follow this link – I cook this recipe in the second half. 

FYI – for more epic brunch dishes check out #brunchathon on Twitter. Me and a few other lovely food writers are doing a little experiment where we all blog along together on a different theme every week!

Ingredients (Serves 4):

1 bottle of robust red wine, a burgundy or something similar. Buy a good one – for this recipe it makes a difference
500ml chicken or veal stock
8 free range eggs
1 pack of good butter, I like salted
250 grams of smoked bacon, cut into thick lardons
250g of mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Lemon juice
16 shallots, peeled (use onion quarters if you like too)
1 onion, roughly chopped
8 thick slices of good quality country bread, or brioche
salt & pepper
tablespoon of sugar (optional)
With this dish I really feel that buying quality makes a difference. It’s so simple, the flavours are so pure that quality really does speak. I’m not asking you to spend a fortune, please don’t, I didn’t, but pop along to your local farmers market and buy local. The butter we bought was churned only 4 days before, the bacon was from a farm in Kent, the eggs were from apple orchard hens and the bread was from a bakery in North London. Everything was great, Balham market did us proud and consequently so did the brunch!


1. Pour your wine into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Crack your eggs into cups (so that they’re ready to poach). Swirl your wine into a whirlpool and tip one egg into the centre- the whirlpool stops the egg flying apart and separating in the liquid. Poach for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice-water to stop it cooking further. Repeat with the rest of the eggs.
2. Sieve your wine to remove the eggy bits and put back on the heat. Add your onion and a few pepper corns and turn the heat up. Reduce to about half the size – around 20-25 minutes. Then remove the onion by sieving, add the stock and reduce again to about a half/third of its size. Finish off with a good old knob of butter. It should be thick and glossy when finished. If it isn’t thickening you can add a spoonful of flour in with the butter too to thicken it. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
3. While your sauce is cooking, prepare your sides – you can do 3-5 simultaneously. Heat a pan with some butter melted in it (2 tablespoons, but who’s counting). Add your garlic and saute for 1 minute until it’s nice and fragrant. Throw in your mushrooms and saute, stirring for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and cooked. They’ll go through a stage where they release a load of juices, then they’ll absorb them back in and soon after they’ll be finished. Season with salt, a little bit of pepper and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Set to one side.
4. In a frying pan heat more butter. Add your shallots and caramelise for about 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown and beautifully soft throughout. You can chuck in a tablespoon of sugar around 6 minutes in to encourage the shallots to caramelise, but this is optional. I like doing it though.
5. Heat some oil in a pan and fry off your bacon lardons until crisp.
6. When your sauce is ready, prepare your bread. Take a pan and heat, guess what, more butter. When melted and bubbling add your thick slices of beautiful bread and fry until golden brown on each side. Feel free to chuck in the bacony oil too – it adds extra flavour.
7. Reheat your eggs by immersing them in boiling water for about 90 seconds. Reheat the rest of your sides and sauce too if needed.
8. Plate up by placing your poached eggs onto your bread – add a few grains of salt on top of the eggs too to season. Scatter the mushrooms, shallots and bacon around the plate. Spoon over that lovely red wine reduction and serve immediately. Guzzle with vigor.

beautiful orchard eggs
bubble away, mister sauce
poaching egg
human sacrifice?
le oignon
butter and sugar for caramelising the shallots
How can you remain impassive at this photo? Pure joy.
Frying country bread
Making the glaze
Tonnes of pans
Plating up