There is no more popular brunch spot in New York City than the utterly classic French brasserie Balthazar. The co-chefs there, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, along with their talented kitchen crew, manage to turn out 1,000 plates of delicious food in less than six hours. Many of those thousand are oeufs en meurette, eggs poached in red wine. At the restaurant they top it with a sauce Bordelaise, but it has plenty of flavor without it. This dish is also substantial enough to serve for dinner.
- 1/2 cup pearl onions
- 1/2 pound slab bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch lardons
- 1/2 pound small white mushrooms, stems discarded
- 1 bottle full-bodied red wine (such as a cabarnet sauvignon)
- 8 large eggs, cold from the fridge
- 4 thick slices of country bread, crusts removed and toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch of frisée
Set a medium saucepan of water over a high flame. When it reaches a boil, add the onions and blanche for eight minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown the lardons in a small, dry saute pan, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserve, and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Add the drained pearl onions to the pan over a high flame and saute until they take on color about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes, until they and the onions are golden brown. Combine the onions, mushrooms, and the lardons in the pan. Keep warm over a low flame, adding butter to the pan if it dries.
In a small skillet, bring the red wine to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the eggs from the fridge (they should be cold before poaching) and crack 2 into a small saucer. Slowly slip the eggs into the simmering wine and poach until the yolks are just set but still runny, about 5 minutes. Cook 4 eggs at a time. While the eggs cook, place one piece of toast in each of 4 shallow bowls. When the eggs are done, use a slotted spoon to transfew them to the toast, 2 eggs per bowl Cover while the remaining eggs are poached.
When all the eggs are cooked and sitting on toast, season with the salt and pepper. Spoon the lardons and mushrooms over the top. Garnish with a little frisee alongside.