Poached Eggs with Goat Cheese & Sautéed Kale
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It’s been a rainy, miserable June. There’s been a lot going on that requires our attention and emotions lately, much of which I will be sharing with you soon enough when the time is right. But suffice it to say for now that I have been in need of some comfort for lately.
I often look to my garden for ingredients and inspiration with which to create my meals, and right now we are overloaded with fresh, healthy, beautiful kale. Our neighbours’ chickens are also producing again and they have more eggs than they know what to do with.
After my garden, I look to my fridge and food storage and decide what ingredients need to be used. While I don’t have any goats of my own (yet!) I do LOVE me some goat cheese and I just happen to have some in the fridge that some friends left here when they were visiting. And on the counter sits half of a baguette that should be used before it dries up. Add in a few cloves of garlic (which I always have on hand) and some fresh chives snipped from our garden and we have all of the makings of a healthy, hearty brunch that fills the belly and comforts the soul on any given day.
First, gather your ingredients. Once you start cooking this dish it goes really fast, so chop and prepare everything ahead of time.
I snipped six large leaves of kale from our garden, removed the stems, tore them to salad-sized pieces and placed in a bowl to the side. Kale cooks down a lot when sautéed so if you have more than a couple people to feed, you probably want to use more kale. About two or three large kale leaves per person is about right for this dish.
Slice up 3 large cloves of garlic into thin rounds and set aside. The garlic is to be added to the sautéed kale and adds some serious flavour to this dish. Chop up your fresh chives if using and set aside to sprinkle over this dish at the end.
Next, slice up your bread and pop the slices on a tray in the oven at 350ºF for about 6-7 minutes (just long enough to crisp them up a bit but not too much). I used a baguette because I happened to have one that needed to be used (I’m all about using what you’ve got on hand!) But you can use any bread you have or make some yourself in next to no time. My Easy, No-Knead, Homemade Bread is the perfect rustic, homemade bread for this dish and I would have absolutely made some if I didn’t already have bread on hand that needed to be used!
While the bread is toasting, put your water on to boil for the poached eggs. Poaching the eggs is the last step, but you want to get your water up to a boil before everything else is done so that it’s ready to go when you are. Poached eggs can be tricky if you are busy doing other things as getting them just right requires some attention to timing, so I like to get everything else ready before I drop my eggs in the pot.
While the water is coming to a boil, melt some butter in a pan and get ready to sauté your garlic and kale. I love using my cast iron pan because it adds iron to any dish as well as flavour and rustic authenticity. These last two reasons might be mostly in my head, but I seriously do find that everything just tastes better in a cast iron pan. I highly recommend one if you don’t already have one!
I use a Lagostina-brand 12-inch Cast Iron Frying Pan that was given to us as a gift (purchased from a Canadian retailer), but this Lodge-brand cast iron pan from Amazon is a great choice at a fraction of the price of the Lagostina one. But at the end of the day, any frying pan will do.
Melt a generous knob of butter (you can substitute oil for butter if you like, but I find that butter just gives this dish some added flavour and substance that just can’t be beat) and then throw your sliced garlic in.
Sauté the garlic for a couple of minutes until softened and slightly browned. Then add the kale and sauté until nicely wilted and covered in garlic and butter. Are you salivating yet?
Remove pan from heat and set aside. At this point, your water should be boiled and you are ready to begin poaching your eggs. Pour a little white vinegar into the pot of boiling water (vinegar helps the eggs white firm up faster when they hit the boiling water which helps preserve the shape and substance of the egg). I don’t measure my pour, but I would say around 1/4 cup of vinegar will more than suffice for a medium-sized pot. And don’t worry, your eggs won’t taste vinegar-y.
I usually turn the heat down just slightly as sometimes a really hard boil is enough to break the eggs when I crack them in, so I turn down the heat to medium-high. Then take a spoon and gently stir the water to get it moving in a single direction (this also helps to preserve the shape of the eggs and keep everything together when they hit the water).
Once the water is swirling in one direction, gently crack each egg one-by-one and drop them into the pot. You can also crack them ahead of time and put them into individual cups to drop in when ready. This just helps to streamline the process of getting your eggs in the pot at roughly the same time without breaking them, but it’s not necessary.
Allow the eggs to poach for 4-5 minutes for medium-poached yolks (3 minutes for soft and 6 minutes for hard is about standard).
While the eggs are poaching, remove bread from the oven (if you haven’t already done so). Spread a generous amount of goat cheese over each piece and then top with some of the sautéed kale and garlic. Prepare all of your bread pieces the same way and then get ready to top with the poached eggs.
Remove pot from heat and, using a slotted spoon, carefully remove each poached egg one at a time. If you are making lots of eggs at once, you might want to remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop them from continuing to cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Strain any excess liquid off of each egg and carefully top each piece of bread. Once all of your bread has been topped with eggs, sprinkle your chopped chives over top and serve immediately.
This dish is rich and comforting but still super healthy and requires very little prep or cooking time, making it a great choice for an easy weekend brunch. My biggest caution is to make sure you have all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time and pay special attention to timing. Do not walk away from this dish while it’s cooking! The actual cooking time is very short (under 10 minutes for everything) and each component needs to be watched so it doesn’t burn or overcook. But otherwise there’s nothing to it!
And don’t worry if your eggs don’t turn out perfectly the first time. I still mess up poached eggs sometimes and I’ve been making them for years. They take some attention to get just right, but they’re well worth perfecting and even if you happen to overcook them, this dish is still tasty as. Just ask my mother-in-law… I totally overcooked her batch and she still ate every bite;)
Also, you can always omit, substitute or add ingredients if you like. Spinach works great in place of kale, hollandaise can be added if you like and a little smoked paprika or even just a little salt and pepper sprinkled over top is always beautiful over poached eggs if you don’t have any herbs on hand.
The last great thing I’ll say about this dish is it can also be made completely from ingredients you produce yourself! Aside from maybe the basic ingredients for the bread, if you are full-on homesteading, you might well grow your own kale, garlic and chives (like we do), produce your own eggs (okay, your chickens can take most of the credit here), and even make your own goat cheese from milk produced by your goats. And of course you can bake your own bread!
But the nice thing is, you don’t have to produce all or even any of these ingredients at home. You can source them from your local farmers market or even the grocery store and still enjoy a farm-fresh-tasting meal. And that is comforting even on the rainiest and gloomiest of days. So cozy up and enjoy:)
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