Oeufs En Meurette: The French Wine Poached Eggs You Should Know

Poached eggs are one of those dishes that exude elegance. Although they can be tricky to fully master, learning how to poach the perfect egg is key if you want to take your kitchen skills to the next level and impress guests. Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than cutting into a delicate egg white and watching the silky, yellow yolk lazily spill out, only to be sopped up with a piece of crusty bread — and maybe a decadent sauce. You can even poach eggs in advance if you plan on feeding a crowd.

While you're probably familiar with creamy hollandaise that often accompanies poached eggs for the brunchtime staple known as Eggs Benedict, let us introduce you to oeufs en meurette. Also known as oeufs à la bourguignonne, this dish blends all the goodness of poached eggs with a stunning French wine sauce that's loaded with mushrooms, bacon, and garlic. Easier than making beef bourguignon, oeufs en meurette showcase just how versatile wine can be.

A humble history

Given France's reputation for great wines like Bordeaux, Beaujolais, and Champagne, it shouldn't come as a surprise that many of the country's signature dishes combine local wines with local ingredients to create really stellar meals. From coq au vin to boeuf bourgogne, escargots à la bordelaise, and even crêpes Suzette, cooking with alcohol isn't taboo in France — in fact, it's often what makes the cuisine so delicious. James Beard Foundation notes that the French's inclination to "pour wine into the pot as readily as we pour stock" has resulted in the creation of countless flavorful dishes, and oeufs en meurette is no exception.

One of the most iconic dishes in Burgundy's cuisine, EasyVoyage explains that the origins of oeufs en meurette are likely connected to boeuf bourguignon, a traditional French beef stew. Extra stew would be revamped by poaching an egg in the sauce as it reheated. While this is a good way to prevent food waste, it's no longer a necessity to have leftover boeuf bourguignon, as sauce meurette can be whipped up using a few hearty ingredients.

How to make oeufs en meurette

Although not one of the classic mother sauces, meurette sauce is a popular choice to dress meat, poultry, fish, or even roasted vegetables. It also, of course, works stunningly when paired with eggs. To make the sauce, The New Yorker recommends rendering lardons of pork belly with mushrooms before removing them from the pan and adding butter, onions, shallots, garlic and any aromatics to sauté. It's at this point that a healthy glug of Burgundian wine (Pinot Noir or Beaujolais) can be added to the pot along with stock and left to simmer.

Traditionally, this is also when eggs can be carefully dropped into the red wine sauce to poach. Cooking the eggs directly in the sauce as it reduces not only adds flavor (and some violet color!), but Taste Atlas also explains that the acidity from the wine prevents the egg white proteins from unraveling. Once the eggs have cooked and the sauce has turned into a glossy and thick condiment, it's time to plate!

How to serve the wine-poached eggs

Oeufs à la bourguignonne are best served immediately, so the wine-poached eggs stay luxuriously yolky when punctured. Likewise, it's key to eat the dish quickly as a means of maintaining the different textures when served with bread, potatoes, or otherwise.

The best way to mop up all of the saucy goodness, according to Thienpont Wine, is by brushing a sliced garlic clove on both sides of sliced bread before slathering it with butter and toasting in a pan. Once golden, you can plate by layering sauce, followed by the poached egg and a sprig of parsley for garnish.

As for a wine pairing, the bottle used to make the sauce is traditionally what you'd drink alongside the dish. Aside from a Burgundian Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, Epicurious also suggests pairing the decadent egg dish with something a bit richer, like a premier cru wine from Burgundy's Côte de Beaune.

Variations on the traditional dish

When it comes to ingredients, different types of stocks (chicken, veal, beef) and fat (butter, lard, duck fat) can be used. Likewise, sometimes aromatics may differ, along with the amount of garlic used. Explore France even shares that the version served at the symbolic Château du Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy has dark chocolate melted into the sauce!

Additionally, the thickness of the sauce can also change based on preference. SFGate reports that the meurette sauce can range from thin, light, and ruby-colored to thick, chunky, and brown. However, most of the variation comes down to how the eggs are prepared.

Despite the fact that oeufs en meurette is traditionally made by poaching eggs directly in the sauce in a fuss-free way, Serious Eats explains that sometimes the eggs are poached separately in wine and then served with the sauce. In some cases, the eggs are even poached in water for a cleaner aesthetic. Regardless of your oeufs en meurette preferences, one thing is for sure, the dish is not to be missed!