Mushroom Ragout with Poached Eggs and Garlic Toasts
1-1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, bottom of stems trimmed, caps wiped clean with a damp cloth (a pound of white mushrooms and a half-pound of crimini work well here)
2 large shallots, finely minced
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups vegetable stock (canned or boxed is fine)
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 branch of fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons softened butter
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the red wine, stock, and thyme and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced to about 2 cups (10-15 minutes).
Meanwhile, quarter the mushrooms if they’re large, and halve the medium-sized ones. The small ones can stay whole. Heat a film of olive oil in a large sauté pan until it’s rippling, and add enough of the mushrooms to almost cover the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan and then let the mushrooms sit for 30 seconds or so to brown one edge, then shake again and brown another side. Take the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside in a bowl. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and sauté the shallots until they’re just turning golden. Stir the mushrooms in, then sprinkle the flour over the top and combine it with the mushrooms and shallots. Cook for a minute on low heat, then slowly add the hot wine mixture, stirring to combine. Add the vinegar. Let the mushrooms to simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes. The liquid should coat the mushrooms nicely. If it seems too liquid-y, raise the heat and boil it for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat back to low. Stir in the butter, then add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the branch of thyme if you used one. Cover the mixture and set it aside to keep warm (or let it cool and refrigerate. Reheat gently to serve.)
4 thin slices rustic bread cut in half crosswise, or 12 slices of baguette, about a half-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the bread slices on a baking pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Let them bake until lightly browned. Rub each slice with the garlic to give a little garlic flavor, then sprinkle with the salt. Let the toasts cool. Store overnight in an airtight container if you want to make them ahead.
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar (optional)
Bring about 4 inches of water to boil in a wide pot and add some salt and the white vinegar. Then lower the heat to a bare simmer. At the same time, fill a large saucepan one-third full with water and some salt and bring it to a simmer. Create a whirlpool/vortex in the saucepan and crack an egg into the center. Leave it for 30 seconds until the outside is set, then remove it with a slotted spoon and place it in the larger pot to cook for two and a half more minutes. Once you’ve removed one egg from the saucepan you can start on the next one. (I recommend putting them in an a clockwise rotation so you’ll know which one is done first.) Remove the eggs and let them rest on a clean towel to dry for a few seconds. (To do them ahead, put the poached eggs in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and refrigerate them. To reheat, put them gently into a bowl of very hot tap water until they’re warm.) You don’t need to worry about them looking perfect, they’re going to taste great in the ragout anyway.
Divide the ragout evenly among 4 bowls, top each portion with a poached egg and arrange the garlic toasts around the edge. Dress it up with a little coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper.