Friday, September 16, 2011

eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce with goat cheese, duck prosciutto and chive blossoms

This dish came together around sorrel. I had never tried it, but a couple of recipes expounding its peppery, lemony tasting virtues had caught my eye, so when I saw a little bunch of it on a lunchtime trip to the farmer's market, I snapped it up in excitement.

In general, it was a particularly successful and inspiring trip to the market. In addition to the sorrel, I got some amazing duck prosciutto, fresh goat cheese, a couple of crusty rolls and some beautiful purple chive blossoms, which I actually got for free. They were being sold attached to the chives, but a number of the flowers had fallen off, so I asked if I could just buy some of the spare blossoms and they kindly threw them in with the sorrel for no extra cost.

I didn't buy all these things with a particular plan in mind, but I felt like they would go well together, and as I sat at my desk that afternoon, I began to formulate a plan: sandwiches, spread with goat cheese, topped off with crispy fried duck prosciutto and chive blossoms marinated in oil and vinegar. But what of the sorrel?

I dove into my trusty list of bookmarked recipes and came up with this New York Times gem for eggs poached in buttery sorrel sauce. Scallions and sorrel are sauteed in butter, and then cream is added. Once it's thickened a bit, crack in and season the eggs, cover the pan and let poach for two minutes or so. You'll get gorgeously runny yolks, and something that looks like simple creamed spinach but is altogether different and more exciting.

I loved this dish, and am disappointed in myself for not buying more sorrel in the months since I made this meal. Nathan was sure sorrel was going to be some low rent weed-like green that farmer's are trying to pass off as the next big thing, but even a skeptic like him had to admit that sorrel is uniquely delicious. Not quite an herb, not quite a salad green, sorrel is something that you have to taste to understand.

I am not the only one who's impressed. I found this great quote on, purported to date from 1720:

Sorrel sharpens the appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart; is an antiscorbutic, resisting putrefaction and in the making of sallets imparts a grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the want of oranges and lemons. Together with salt, it gives both the name and the relish to sallets from the sapidity, which renders not plants and herbs only, but men themselves pleasant and agreeable.

So there you have it. Try sorrel: it will make you happy.

As for this meal, the eggs in creamy sorrel would have been a delight on their own, but they were by no means overwhelmed by the chive flowers, goat cheese and duck prosciutto. Without those extra accoutrements, this dish is breakfast or brunch. All decked out the way I served it, this is a pretty fancy lunch or a great rustic dinner.

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