In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: In the early years, F&W had a distinct French bent to it, especially in the recipes. Anne Willan, founder of the prestigious École de Cuisine la Varenne in France, expounded the virtues of cooking with wine and shared a recipe for classic oeufs pochés en meurette, a Burgundian preparation reminiscent of eggs benedict, with egg-topped buttered toast rounds. Traditionally the eggs for this dish are poached in red wine; it adds a bit of flavor, but the eggs take on a grayish-purple color. This version calls for eggs that have been poached in water, then assembled with the red wine sauce at the end. In her version, Willan used red burgundy to make a rich, glossy sauce studded with bits of bacon, which she spooned over the runny eggs. She didn’t insist on using Burgundian wine, but she strongly advised the cook: “if it is not fit to drink, it is not fit for the pot.”
2 cups water
1/4 cup veal demiglace (such as D’Artagnan)
1 cup chopped tomato
2 shallots, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
Bouquet garni: 5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, 1 thyme sprig, and 1 fresh bay leaf, tied securely with butcher’s twine
Whisk together 2 cups water and demiglace in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium until demiglace dissolves, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine, tomato, shallots, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over high; reduce heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced by half (about 2 cups), 50 to 55 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer over a small nonreactive saucepan. Discard solids, and set wine mixture aside.
While wine mixture reduces, heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add bacon, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
Stir together softened butter and flour in a small bowl until smooth to make a beurre manié. Bring reserved wine mixture to a simmer over medium, and gradually whisk in beurre manié. Cook, whisking constantly, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cooked bacon, and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place 1 poached egg on each fried bread round; spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons wine sauce over each egg. Sprinkle evenly with parsley, and serve with remaining wine sauce.
This dish can be made up to 8 hours ahead. If you have poached the eggs ahead of time, cover with water and refrigerate them separately from the sauce. Before using the poached eggs, quickly immerse them in a large skillet of simmering water until just heated through, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Wrap fried bread rounds loosely in foil and keep at room temperature.
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