There are a lot of moments we work towards in life…Getting into college. Graduating from college. Getting a job. Getting a new job that pays infinitesimally more.
I’m pleased to say I’ve been able to check a few of those off the list. And at each moment, I felt like I had achieved something. I may even have thought I was making strides towards proper adulthood.
I was wrong. You see, all those achievements pale in comparison to a recent evening that will go down in my personal history as…
The Day Callie Successfully Poached Her First Egg.
If you’ve already poached an egg and consider this a minor feat, move along and let me enjoy my spotlight. Because, if I may brag for a moment, not only was it my first egg poaching attempt ever but it came out PERFECTLY on the first try. It was a total slam dunk and I’ve never been prouder.
Aside from the satisfaction of nailing something on my first try, and knowing that I no longer have to pay $17 for eggs Benedict on the weekend, I’m ecstatic to be able to actually use a poached egg in recipes that call for one. In the past, I’ve always substituted fried and it’s just not the same. There’s something to be said for nudging your spoon into a gentle orb of white and releasing an ooze of yolk.
Case in point: the delectable white bean stew I made a few weeks ago, courtesy of the indomitable Deb Perelman. Seriously, if you don’t already worship at the House of Deb, do yourself a favor and follow Smitten Kitchen on Instagram. There is literally nothing by that woman that I don’t want to make and eat on a semi-regular basis.
The stew is no exception. What it lacks in meat it makes up for in a flavorful, wine-enhanced broth. It is fantastic heaped on a piece of toasted Challah bread. It includes vegetables which automatically makes it good for you. And, should you be as accomplished at egg poaching as I am,* you can top it with one for a complete and cozy winter meal.
Make it once, eat daily or freeze for later enjoyment, repeat.
Smitten Kitchen’s Chard and White Bean Stew, adapted by me:
1-2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, greens removed from the stalk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (or more to taste) vegetable broth
1 cup pureed tomatoes (from whole canned tomatoes)
Salt and pepper
Deb includes but I didn’t because I didn’t have them and am broke:
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Bring medium pot of salted water to boil. Cook chard for one minute, then drain. Let cool, then squeeze out as much extra water as possible and chop, coarsely.
Wipe out medium pot to dry it, and heat olive oil over medium. Add carrots, celery, shallots and garlic and saute for 15 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pot, and cook it until it reduced by three-fourths. In the meantime, add whole canned tomatoes to blender and puree.
Add beans, broth, pureed tomatoes, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper, (thyme and bay leaf if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chard and cook for 5 minutes more. (Remove thyme and bay leaf if using.) Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Deb suggests serving with a drizzle of sherry vinegar. I served as is, with toasted challah for dipping, topped with the much-celebrated poached egg.
Egg Poaching 101:
Fill a small pot about 1/3 of the way with water–just enough that when you drop in the egg, it will be completely submerged. Add a splash of vinegar; I use white wine vinegar.
Heat water over medium-high heat until it’s just about to simmer. There should be small bubbles all over the bottom of the pot. While it’s heating, crack your egg into a bowl for easy transfer. Use a spoon or spatula to begin swirling the water, creating a mini whirlpool at the center of which the magic happens.
Once the water is at the right temperature and swirling, drop the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Your experience may be different, but I find it’s best to swirl the water around the egg for at least the first minute, until you’re sure that the white and the yolk have bonded. It also helps the white to surround the yolk. Once they’re sufficiently coupled, let cook for about 2-3 more minutes until set. Scoop from pot and enjoy.
*I feel obliged to confess that my second egg poaching attempt was a failure; the white and the egg separated never to meet again.