This is an homage to the perfect poached egg atop salads at our Gourmet Club potluck dinner last weekend. Salade Lyonnais: lettuce, quality bacon, homemade croutons, fresh-made vinaigrette and that glorious warm poached egg on top.
Ricki and John had the assignment of salad. Our dinner theme was to cook something from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. The party was here in our newly leased condo, having downsized from The Big House In Westwood six weeks earlier, with a three-week trip to Tanzania and Rwanda in there, too. Lesson: if you need motivation to put stuff away and decorate adequately for Christmas, throw a dinner party.
LES TRAVELING OEUFS: Ricki and John live a schlepp from here. They traveled on the horrid, crazy, stop-and-go 405 freeway… with a dozen perfect pre-poached eggs swimming in water in the trunk. Our friends are not only gourmet cooks, they are FEARLESS cooks. We were in awe. (Inside scoop: Ricki and John always test their Gourmet Club recipe for dinner some other meal. They don’t have to, but they choose to do the trickiest stuff and their effort shows.)
Eating an egg on a green salad is, in a word, magnifique! The egg adds a little protein, yes, but also a kind of “gravy.” I still remember decades later a poached egg atop a pizza in Tahiti — LOVED schmeering that runny, yolky, creamy gravy over my entree. The fat in the yolk delivers the flavor. So good.
So I want to tell you how they did the eggs for 10 potluck salads (plus two for good measure, which I kept. And had for breakfast. So good):
I used a big pot and filled it about 3 inches deep. Just easier for me to work with.
On the large side of the egg, I stuck a pushpin in and created a tiny hole and then, after the water was boiling, submerged each egg with shell on, one at a time for 10 seconds with the hole facing up to allow the air to escape the egg.
After this process was done, I added a 1/3 cup of vinegar to the water. Bring the water back to a light boil/simmer.
I cracked each egg as close to the water as possible so as to gently have the egg enter the water. I used jumbo eggs. I found for me cooking time was 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Originally the recipe called for 4 minutes and I found it was a little too long (yolk not runny). I only did a maximum of four eggs at a time.
I made the eggs the day before and stored them in the fridge in a bowl of cold water with no lid. Because I made 12 eggs, I put them in a large pot with the water to transport.
About 10 minutes before plating salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off heat, add eggs and allow to warm up (but not cook), about 2 minutes max. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and serve on a bed of salad greens with cooked bacon, croutons and vinaigrette. Season with fresh-ground pepper.