The Healthful Hedonist: Comfort Food for the 21st Century
Poached Eggs and Kale
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I recently had the privilege of spending a morning with renowned Boston chef Frank McClelland, owner of L'Espalier and Sel de la Terre. I almost had to run to keep up with him as he showed a few of us his land, but I suppose a you have to live in fifth gear if you want to farm 14 acres, manage a group of about 450 employees, cook at your award-winning five-diamond restaurant most nights, and raise your family of four children, although at least he has a lovely wife to help out with the last part. Anyway, I left his home needing a nap.
The chef serves this luscious black kale and poached egg at L'Espalier as accompaniments to duck confit hash. Just the thought of duck confit hash pains me – rather, not having it on my dinner plate pains me – but fortunately, the chef's side dishes are good enough to comprise a gourmet meal in themselves. Making this confit-less dish brought the taste of one of Boston's best restaurants into my home for about six bucks for four people, and it took me 20 minutes to make.
However, I'm no Frank McClelland and as you can see I overcooked the eggs just a bit while I was tending to the kale. Still, the buttered whole grain toast topped with creamy eggs was comfort food at its most old-fashioned; the kale – fragrant with tarragon and bright with lemon – was all 2009.
A note about poaching eggs: as long as you're not a perfectionist (I liked my overdone eggs, okay?), poaching is easy. Be gentle as you crack and slip the eggs into the simmering (not boiling!) water. Some of the white will poof out, but you can scoop it all together at the end.
If I can do it, you can too.
The following recipes are both from Wine Mondays by Frank McClelland and Christie Matheson.
Cost Breakdown for four people – about five bucks
Almost a pound of kale: $2.50.
Eight fancy farmers market eggs: $2.
Spices, vinegar and butter: approximately 50 cents.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound black kale, AKA dinosaur or Tuscan kale, washed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter and oil. When the butter is sizzling (that should take about 1 minute), add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add the kale and cover. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and tarragon and cook for 3 minutes. Stir again. Cover and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 whole black peppercorns
8 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. Add the salt, vinegar and peppercorns. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- Crack the eggs into the simmering water. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites are completely cooked. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
Make a bed of sautéed kale and top with two poached eggs per person. Serve with buttered toast.