Thursday, October 27

Purple Sprouting & Poached Egg on Toast, Béarnaise

I woke up starving today, ravenous, proper hungry. Breakfast didn't touch the sides and by 11am I was rummaging through the fridge to see what I could rustle up. I had some eggs, some wilted tarragon and a few sprigs of purple sprouting. This unlikely combo turned out to be a bit of a winner for a snack or a light lunch. It's not that healthy due to the amount of butter in the béarnaise but I bet it is not much more calorific than a shop bought sausage roll which is what I really wanted! For 1:

1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
6 purple sprouting broccoli sprigs, trimmed of woody ends and excess leaves
1 piece of quality bread
A small palm full of tarragon, picked and chopped
100g butter
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Get a kettle full of water on the boil and then blanch your purple sprouting in boiling salted water - in this instance you want the stems nice and soft, not crunchy as I would normally recommend. In a small pan, reduce the vinegar to about a tsp worth - this reduces the acidity and harshness in the finished sauce. Melt the butter, toast your bread, get a pan of boiling water on for your poached egg.

In a small bowl and using a whisk, beat the egg yolk with the vinegar reduction and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the butter, a little at a time, whisking continuously until all the butter has been incorporated. The finished béarnaise should have a thin mayonnaise like consistency. Toss in the tarragon and keep in a warm place - by the stove is fine. Now poach you egg - and while I am at it here are a few tips to getting the perfect result:

1) The eggs must be good quality and very fresh - the older the egg, the more watery the whites. Watery whites float all round the pan whereas firm whites hold around the yolk giving a spherical poached egg.
2) Deep water is a must - use your deepest saucepan, about 5 inches depth of boiling water is perfect. This allows the egg white to 'pull up' into a sack like shape as it makes its way through the hot water to the bottom of the pan.
3) Add a little white wine vinegar - this speeds the setting of the egg proteins
4) The water should be at a gentle boil - just a few bubbles breaking the surface, not seriously boiling.
5) Give the water a swirl before you tip in the egg - make a gentle whirl pool and break the egg into the centre of the spinning water. This motion will twist the white around the egg yolk giving a pleasing shape.
6) To check your egg is cooked, raise just to the surface of the water with a slotted spoon and give it a little squeeze. The white should feel thick and firm but with plenty of squidge from the yolk.

Now back to business - 'butter' your toast with some of the béarnaise, lay on the purple sprouting, top with the egg, spoon over the béarnaise. It is ok to 'oohh' when you break open the egg.

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