Reader request – eggs with beurre noir April 14, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Chicken, Wolfe recipe.
I think twitter is great. Not only does it allow communication with a wide range of people, it also allows almost instant access to news, conferences and general interesting things. So I was gratified that I received a request / question from someone on twitter. I was asked if I’d tried the eggs in black butter, served regularly at the brownstone for breakfast.
Well, I hadn’t – and it was the first recipe in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. Since it was eaten so regularly at the brownstone, it was only right that I try it as soon as I could. The recipe itself was fairly straightforward, only requiring eggs, butter and dry sherry.
I started by spreading some melted butter into two ramekins (the recipe instructed me to use shirred egg dishes, but I didn’t have these so figured ramekins would be an OK substitute). Then I cracked two eggs into each one, ensuring I didn’t break the yolks.
I heated the oven grill (broiler) and put the eggs underneath. While they began to cook, I started to prepare the sauce. Again this was a fairly simple process. I melted about 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, and heated it until it began to froth on the surface.
While the froth had risen to the top, the milk solids in the butter had fallen to the bottom. I poured the remaining butter into a bowl and removed the milk solids from the saucepan, and then put the clarified butter back into the saucepan to continue cooking it. I cooked it until it started to turn brown. Incidentally, although I followed the instructions in the recipe for clarifying the butter, most instructions for clarifying butter advise that you strain the butter – not just pour it off as I did. I think I probably didn’t get it as ‘clear’ as it could have been. Here’s a photo taken as it was browning.
Once the butter was browned, I added some dry sherry and stirred it until it was combined. By this time the eggs were done, and scooped them out of the ramekins and put it in a dish (thankfully the eggs came out super easily thanks to the earlier application of butter). I poured the sauce over the top, and added some parsley as a garnish.
This was an interesting dish to try and highlights how different cooking techniques can turn even a few mundane ingredients into something else. The first thing to note was that I absolutely loved the eggs cooked this way. The whites had gone crispy on top, but the yolks were still runny in the middle.
However, I was less keen on the butter sauce. Maybe the sherry I used wasn’t dry enough, but I was expecting more of a vinegar-y kick from the sauce. Instead, it seemed that the taste of the butter (which was nice, but very very rich) overwhelmed the sherry , which didn’t really come through at all. While I’d put the parsley on the top mainly for decoration, I actually found it helped to provide contrast and a bit of relief from the sauce.
Occasionally, it seems that Nero Wolfe makes this dish using wine vinegar rather than the sherry. I’d be interested to try it with the vinegar rather than the sherry, and see if a more balanced sauce can be achieved. I’ll definitely be making the eggs again – but perhaps with a different sauce next time.
Incidentally, if you want to see me cook something specific, shoot me an email or contact me on twitter (scroll down on the about page for these details). I’m always happy to try wild and wacky recipes – or even, as in this case, something new for breakfast!