When in Burgundy thou shalt drink red wine and eat red meat. Ok, if I have to! I’ve never had a problem with the first part of that (although, many would argue that perhaps I do have a problem). The second part has provided challenges as, for many years, I’ve described myself as a vegetarian of sorts. Happily, now I’m probably better classified as ‘selective meat eater’. Just don’t ask me to define what selective means.
Taking the 40-odd kilometre Route de Grand Crus from Dijon to Beaune, rather than the motorway, was an inspired decision. It was just gorgeous, weaving around narrow lanes lined with vines in spring bud and taking short detours through postcard villages.
Beaune (pronounced ‘Bow-ne’), known as the capital of Burgundy wine region, was a delight. A walled city, with cobbles, that offered the conveniences required for modern living while maintaining traditions of the past. It was refreshing that shops closed for a siesta or family lunch on Sunday. One of our highlights was a visit to Patriarche, the former convent comprising five kilometers of wine caves. The self guided tours were supported by excellent audio visual information and tastings. At 13 euros, it was great value – and doable with buggy. It is no coincidence that one of our son’s first word’s was ‘cheers’!
It was in Beaune that we came across today’s surprisingly delicious recipe. Husband had opted for one of the set menus (always a winning strategy for me as it gives me more food to sample). The problem came when he had to choose his entree from options he didn’t like. The most palatable we translated to being eggs in red wine sauce (oeufs en meurette). Hmmm, really – and for dinner? Needless to say, much to Brendon’s disappointment, it quickly became a shared entree. And worked oh so well before my duck confit (one of the selected red meat dishes I enjoy).
This is my version of eggs in red wine, adapted from several I found online. I’ve now added it to one of my cooking class menus. Everyone raised eyebrows when I introduced the recipe – not so after they’d wiped clean their plates after lunch. It’ll take about an hour to cook – do give it a go, it’s worth it.
What you’ll need for two large servings or four smaller ones
350ml pinot noir (from Burgundy of course!)
225ml chicken stock
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Bouquet garni – thyme, bay leaf, parsley
1 bay leaf
80gm bacon or lardons
100g button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
10 pickling (very small) onions, peeled but whole. (If too big, you can cut in half, but take care they don’t break up.)
1 Tbsp cornflour
‘Rustic’ bread, such as ciabatta – 4 slices (or use what you’ve got as you’ll see I did).
1 clove garlic, peeled but whole
How to make it
Combine the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Add the onion, carrot, smashed garlic, bouquet garni, bay, and peppercorns. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half.
Meanwhile, melt a third of the butter in a fry pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Melt another third of the butter and sauté the mushrooms for about five minutes. Add the sliced garlic and continue to sauté, without burning the garlic. Remove and set aside with the bacon.
Melt the rest of the butter and gently sauté the onions, shaking the pan to avoid burning, until they soften (about 15-20 minutes). I tend to cook a bit longer if time permits, using a simmer pad, but you don’t need to. Turn off the heat and add the bacon, mushrooms and garlic back into the pan.
Once your wine liquid has, strain through a sieve and discard the veges. Put the liquid back into the pot and over a low/medium heat.
Mix the cornflour with about 30ml of cold water to form a loose paste. Pour this into the wine and stir until it thickens. Add the liquid to the onion mixture in the fry pan. Heat through and season with salt and pepper. You can set the mixture aside prior to heating, then warm it when required for serving.
To serve, toast the bread and rub with a clove of garlic. Place the croute on your serving plates. (As you can see, I had that old French favourite, Vogels, in the house. So, that’s what I used last week.)
Poach the eggs.
I can’t end this post without raving about our accommodation. La Combotte was the best stay of our trip. This superb B&B in Nantoux, eight kilometers from Beaune, was situated on the family vineyard. Run by the very hospitable Denis, it was hard to fault our time there. I could have quite contentedly moved into the kitchen – check out the locally custom made oven, which Denis was happy for me to use. Nothing was too much trouble during our stay and I can’t wait to go back one winter for the truffle hunt on the property, followed by Denis’ famous truffle risotto. Best I get saving….