John B. Reyna
Legal poaching with bacon and frisée
Honestly, who resists poaching eggs because it looks difficult? Come one, be honest. I get it. I’ve heard it before from plenty of family and friends. They all love eggs Benedict, but steer clear of poaching eggs.
If you fall into that category of terrified home cooks, Teakwood Tavern is here to put your culinary angst at ease. Poached eggs can be mastered easily with our tips. Seriously, it’s such an easy technique to master that you’ll find yourself wanting to put poached eggs on EVERYTHING. And you should. They’re delicious.
So let’s learn how to poach eggs and oh so much more . . .
(makes 2 salads)
2 large eggs
4 oz Bacon (cut into ½ inch strips)
¼ cup water
0.5 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, minced (about 1 small-medium)
2.5 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (result of cooking the bacon, not an ingredient to buy)
2.5 oz frisée
1.5 oz arugula
1 tablespoon chives, minced
0.5 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
As you saw in the video above, prep all of your ingredients, except for the frisée, arugula, and tarragon, before you begin the main cooking phase. I wash the frisée, arugula, and tarragon, but I don’t chop them until later. If you chop them too early, they often take on a bruised look, which is not what you want to see when you look down on your plate.
Also, get your pan/pot of water ready for the eggs. I prefer a 5-quart sauteuse pan because I can move the eggs easier. I put about three inches of water in the pan. You want enough to submerge the eggs, but no need to go crazy with a full stockpot worth. Bring to a boil and put a lid on to keep the water from evaporating. You might be asking yourself: “But what about the vinegar that goes in the pan to keep the egg-whites together?” It’s not necessary, and I’ll explain why in the following video:
Once the excess egg-whites are discarded (and turned into a cocktail, perhaps), move over to the stove and get your 10-12” skillet hot for the bacon. No need to add oil, just get the pan hot over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, grab your cut bacon and the ¼ cup of water and let that boil. I hope you enjoy the water trick . . .
One quick note: I misspoke in the video when I said I cut the bacon into 1/4 inch pieces. They were cut into 1/2 inch pieces as the recipe says above. Sorry for the confusion.
As you saw in the video, once the water evaporates, reduce the heat to low and let the bacon cook slowly. This will give you time to work on the other ingredients, like the frisée and arugula.
Set the frisée and arugula in a large mixing bowl and set the bowl off to the side. Take a peak at the bacon and give it a stir. Then return to your cutting board and chop the tarragon.
Put the tarragon in the bowl with the frisée and arugula. Again, take a peak at the bacon and give it some love.
Now that the bacon is coming along. Let’s make the vinaigrette. We begin by making a slight adjustment to the classic French vinaigrette ratio, which is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Here, I want the sherry vinegar to come through a bit more so I go with 2.5 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. The mustard acts as an emulsifier and it brings some welcome tanginess. Quick personal note: Please remember the classic 3:1 ratio and make your own dressings at home. As you will see below, it’s really easy.
Now, it’s time to separate the cooked bacon from the delicious bacon fat, which we are using as the oil for the vinaigrette. FOR REALZ!!! I told you this was comfort food!
Now let’s add the bacon fat to the mustard and sherry vinegar.
Now that the base of the vinaigrette is made, we need to cook the shallots and warm up the vinaigrette. Yes, this is a warm salad.
AND NOW THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR . . . LET’S POACH SOME EGGS!!!
This is where I earn my street cred.
So what did we just learn?
1. You don’t need vinegar to keep the egg-whites together.
2. You don’t need to make a tornado effect in the water.
I should probably drop the mic here and press “publish.” But I’m a talker so you’re not done with me just yet. Let’s get back to the salad.
It’s time to dress the greens/herbs. Off camera, I added ¾ of the chives; you will save the rest for garnishing. I also sprinkled salt and pepper off camera.
And that’s dish!
We paired this dish with two wines: one white and one red. This dish, while simple, is complex in flavors. You have the acidity of the vinaigrette but the richness of the bacon and egg yoke. So wanted to go with wines that were medium bodied and had at least medium-plus acidity. For one wine, we had to look no further than the local wine of Lyon, which is in the heart of Beaujolais. We opened a 2018 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie that showcased cherries, violets, and baking spices. It paired wonderfully. For the white wine we went with Fraga do Lecer's 2018 Godello from Monterrei DO, Galicia, Spain. Godello is a fun wine to explore. It generally has aromas and flavors of citrus, herbs, green apple, and minerality and medium-plus acidity. This particular wine was aged on its lees, and it was unfined and unfiltered. Those winemaking techniques resulted in a rounder mouthfeel that played well with the richness of the salad.
But I guess none of that matters if the egg wasn’t cooked properly. So without further adieu, the unveiling of the runny yoke:
I hope you enjoyed this post. And most importantly, I hope the fear of poached eggs has vacated your psyche forever! It’s not a terrifying technique, I promise. But it is an incredible technique to add to your culinary repertoire. Honestly, I frequently add one to leftovers to liven them up. Also, poached eggs add a level of sophistication to dishes, and thus the technique is useful when hosting company you want to impress.
Lastly, please don’t skip on the salad. I know you likely came here for the poached eggs, but this salad is phenomenal. I still remember where I was when I ate it for the first time, Café Bink in Carefree, AZ. I was working as a restaurant manager at the Arizona Biltmore (a Waldorf-Astoria Resort), and renowned Chef Kevin Binkley had recently opened up Café Bink, the sister restaurant to his exquisite fine-dining restaurant—Binkley’s Restaurant. Café Bink was a French bistro restaurant. Needless to say, I was excited and hoped it lived up to expectations. When I arrived, I saw the Salad Lyonnaise on the menu and began drooling. I had heard of the salad, but I had never tried one. That meal was life changing.
Mine may or may not be better than Café Bink’s. Honestly, that was so many moons ago that I don’t remember the details as well as I used to. In fact, I might have had a hamburger and a beer at Café Bink and this could all be in my imagination. Regardless, this recipe works. And I hope it works for you.
Sending love and good eats,