The above-mentioned frigging spring onions.
Usually, Wednesday nights are fajita nights. Except this Wednesday, when I totally forgot because I’d been thinking all day about the best way to have poached eggs for dinner. It’s just been so sunny for the last few days and even though it hasn’t been terribly warm, immanent springtime put me in the mood for a lighter meal. When I stopped by Whole Foods after work to pick up some Smackdown ingredients for tomorrow, I saw a big pile of spring onions and immediately thought: spring onion and mushroom saute topped with poached eggs, and a simple salad. Which I came home and started preparing. Because that’s what normal people do.
Unbeknownst to me, Brian had invited his brother and his wife over for fajitas and, because of a failed game of phone tag, there I was with a pan full of spring onions. Although I love fajita night, I really really wanted a poached egg, so I stuck to my guns (risking displeasing my surprise dinner guests, thus incurring the wrath of my inner Italian nonna). Because I’m the one cooking, and you’ll eat what I give you and you’ll like it. Okay, not really. But you will. Like it, I mean.
Not a fajita.
I’ve never used spring onions, but they look like ginormous scallions with bulbous ends so I treated them as such. I chopped the whites and light greens and tossed them into a big skillet with cremini mushrooms, olive oil and salt. The mix smelled heavenly, and stirring the enormous skillet of veggies was highly satisfying in that home-cookin’ kinda way.
While the veg slowly browned, I contemplated how I could bring the dish up the additional proverbial “notch”; things were looking entirely too wholesome for my taste. I decided to deglaze the pan with a little madiera and tossed in some creme fraiche to enrich things a little, relying on the warm poached egg yolk to bring everything together as one luscious sauce. A squirt of lemon juice brightened things and added a little welcome acid up front.
Not a pig’s ear…but close.
Foolproof notch-bringer-upper: pork. In a flash of inspiration, I crisped up a few slices of prosciutto to crumble over the top for some crunch and salt. Because apparently, I can not go one single meal without involving some kind of pork product. And if you think there’s something wrong with that, then I think there’s something wrong with YOU. Crispy prosciutto is like the delicate, consumptive younger sister of bacon, but in a good way.
I sacrificed my firstborn child to produce a good-looking poached egg. FOR YOU I do these things.
The finished dish was really. Fucking. Good. A layer of mushroom and onion saute, topped with a perfectly poached egg – hot but still nice and runny – with some crispy prosciutto shards propped against it and a pile of baby spinach dressed with a revelatory apple-cider based dressing we discovered during a past Smackdown. As I’d hoped, the egg yolk mixed with the madiera-and-creme coating on the vegetables and created a richly flavored and textured sauce. The prosciutto lent a welcome bit of texture and salt that cut through the unctuousness (unctuosity?) of the yolk. A tasty spinach salad is what it is (e.g., tasty. Also, made of spinach.)
I was hoping there might be some leftover mushroom mix to be incorporated into a future eggs en cocotte. Apparently, the brother- and sister-in-law did not mind my impromptu shelving of fajita night, because there are currently no more mushrooms or spring onions left in this apartment. Fajita night will return next week, lest the resulting anarchy cause the earth to spin clear off its axis.
Les frigging oignons de printemps avec des oeufs poches
2 tbsp. olive oil
4-6 spring onions, slice on the bias
16 oz. mushrooms (I used cremini, you can use any mix you like), sliced
1/3 c. madiera (marsala would also be tasty)
2 tbsp. creme fraiche
Juice of 1/2 lemon (you could substitute vinegar for this if you like)
1 tbsp. white vinegar
4 large eggs, room temperature (8, if you’re a hungry bunch)
4 slices prosciutto (omit for a veggie version, but include some crusty bread for textural contrast)
Make the veg saute: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are wilted and fragrant and the mushrooms give up their liquid, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for 5-7 more minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned. Pour in the madiera and scrape up the mushroomy fond (brown bits) stuck to the bottom of the pan; cook for a minute or two until the wine is reduced to a glaze. Stir in the creme fraiche and lemon juice and adjust the salt to taste. Hold the veggies over low heat.
Poach the eggs: In a large, deep pot, heat 4-5 inches of water and the white vinegar to a rolling boil. While the water heats, crack the eggs into 4 small bowls. When the water hits a boil, turn the heat as low as it will go. Wait for the major bubbling to subside and slip the eggs in one at a time. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Fry the prosciutto: Heat a drop of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and fry for 1-2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel.
To plate, spread a layer of veg saute on a plate. Remove a poached egg from the pot with a slotted spoon and nestle it on top. Lean a few shards of proscuitto against the egg. Eat immediately; break into the egg and allow the yolk to permeate down into the veggies.