Paul Flynn: Three delicious dishes you can bank on this weekend
A breakfast feast, a healthy and satisfying lunch and a soothing supper dish
Poached eggs, black and white pudding, sage brown butter. Photograph: Harry Weir
Does anybody think that poaching food is vaguely parsimonious? Is it like asking a thin-lipped person for their Confirmation money? Is it ever done with a sense of luxury as opposed to deprivation?
I’ve always loved poached food. When I started cheffing, I fell in love with French food. What kept me going was the quest to know more, do more and be more. It was never just a job. There was none of that Nordic foraging when I was training. It was all butter, cream and bulging arteries. However, when you delve deep, the nuances of French cooking unveil themselves. Poaching is common and can be ultra-delicious.
With oeufs en meurette, the inky exterior gives way to pristine whiteness and ochre yolk that oozes into bacon, mushrooms and a red wine sauce. A poule au pot sends my pulse racing. A stuffed poulet de Bresse sits regally astride its subordinate vegetables. The amber broth serves as a first course, while the bird awaits.
The south of France gives us bourride, a pungent and delicious fish stew. The broth is thickened by a heady aioli that is mopped up with bread and saffron poached potatoes. I want to hop on a flight right now.
This poached egg dish is perfect for a bank holiday weekend breakfast. We make a sage and bacon butter that elevates the eggs. The pool of devil-may-care brown butter sets you up for the day. A little tip: you can pre-poach the eggs if you like, then plunge them into iced water. This takes the stress out of poaching so many eggs. Then reheat them in hot water.
This mushroom dish is as beige as a pair of Farah slacks, but it has a mellow, soothing flavour. I remember having field mushrooms cooked in milk at home, a dim but pleasurable memory. I’ve added smoked bacon to the milk for interest, barley for agricultural reassurance and Coolea for cheesy comfort.
I love poached salmon. I often do a cold version served with mayonnaise in summer. I’m adding some butter to the stock for warm richness and this fennel jam is just the bomb. I love it with goat’s cheese as well.
POACHED EGGS, BLACK AND WHITE PUDDING, SAGE BROWN BUTTER
125g packet smoked bacon lardons
12 sage leaves
4 slices of black pudding, from a large one
2 slices of white pudding, from a large one
A little oil to brush the puddings.
1tbs malt vinegar
8 free-range eggs
1 Set the oven to 185 degrees.
2 Put the lardons on a roasting tray and cook for 10 minutes or so until golden and crisp.
3 Put the butter in a saucepan and place over a low heat until it begins to gently foam and bubble. Do not stir. This might take five minutes or so; be patient.
4 When the butter turns a nutty colour, add the sage leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the sage butter from the heat and incorporate the crispy bacon, set aside.
5 Brush the puddings with the oil and bake in the oven for eight to 10 minutes.
6 Meanwhile bring a pot of water to the boil then add the salt and vinegar.
7 Poach the eggs for six to seven minutes, drain with a slotted spoon, then set on top of the puddings on warm plates.
8 Warm the sage and bacon butter, then spoon it over the top of the eggs and serve.
FIELD MUSHROOMS, BARLEY, SMOKED BACON MILK
4 large field mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 onion, peeled and cut into thin rings
2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
2 smoked streaky rashers
Salt and black pepper
60g Coolea or cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes.
1 Soak the barley for two hours in water, then drain and rinse.
2 Put the mushrooms, onion, bay and rashers into a saucepan and cover with the milk.
3 Season, drop in the cheese, cover, then simmer gently for 15 minutes, until cooked.
4 Divide between warm bowls and enjoy the soothing beige.
BUTTER POACHED SALMON, STICKY FENNEL JAM
For the jam:
1 large bulb of fennel
2 strips of orange peel
Juice of 1 orange
80g caster sugar
1 star anise
1tbs olive oil
A few black peppercorns
A few sprigs of dill
2 salmon fillets, about 120g each, skinned and boned
Some creme fraiche and brown bread to serve
1 Trim the outside leaves and root from the fennel, then shred it as finely as you can.
2 Put into a pot with all the rest of the ingredients for the jam.
3 Bring to the boil, cover then simmer gently for 15 minutes until the fennel has softened.
4 Remove the lid and allow to the liquid to evaporate and become jammy, stirring occasionally over a low heat.
5 Remove from the heat and stir in the olive oil.
6 Keep in a jar in the fridge.
7 For the salmon: put the water, butter, salt, peppercorns and a few dill stalks into a pot that will fit the salmon snugly.
8 Bring to a simmer and lower in the salmon, making sure it’s immersed in the liquid. If not, top up with a little more water.
9 Poach for six minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.
10 Allow to sit for three more minutes before serving on warm plates with the fennel jam, creme fraiche and brown bread. Garnish with the dill fronds.