Posted by: ThePseudotarian | August 5, 2010

Fromage Blanc on a Bed of Wine-Simmered Lentils with a Poached Duck Egg

First of all, don’t let this title sound daunting. It’s not. It utilizes two pots and one saute pan, and will only take up maybe 35 minutes. And most of that time is waiting for your lentils to soften up and become absolutely delicious. So if this title sounds like something from Top Chef (does it? pleeeassee??), don’t let it throw you off.

Second of all, have you heard of Farm to Family? If you haven’t learned about Mark Lilly’s genius brain-child, please please please please take a moment and click on that link. I can’t begin to describe his project as eloquently as the site, so I’ll leave it up to you, wonderful pseudoreaders, to take the initiative there.

Big picture aside (as in – let’s become self-sustainable! yay!), The food that Mark picks up from all over the region (meats, produce, dairy and more) is just plain GOOD. Have you seen Food, Inc? Polyface farms, one of the humane real free-range establishments is one of the suppliers of Farm to Family’s meat products. While I of course haven’t tried any of the piggies or chickens or cows, I’ve heard great things from people who have, for all you lurking carnivores.

One of the most ingenious ideas was how Farm to Family really got started. On a bus. Think, rolling farmer’s market. Anyway, they just opened up a market location about 15 minutes from our apartment, and I couldn’t be happier. In face, Matt and I went last night and I went a little crazy. Trout filets, duck eggs (!!!), chicken eggs, a GIANT butternut squash (stay tuned for THAT fun recipe), two kinds of soft cheeses: one with garlic and sundried tomatoes and one with lavender, thyme and tarragon, a bag of lovely dried shiitakes, and SO much more. Oh my goodness. They also had amazing little quail eggs. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them … but I’ll find a recipe and then go back and buy about 800.

So after our adventure, Matt had to run sound and leave 10 minutes after we got home, so he didn’t get to experience the amazingness that was my dinner. It was inspired by a recipe I saw over at Serious Eats. A crispy round of soft cheese is breaded and quickly pan seared. It tops a bed of wine-simmered lentils along with a poached duck’s egg.

Yea. I know. And yes, it was that good …

And also, it didn’t even really take that long. My advice is definitely to get the lentils started right away. Everything else can hold off a bit, since it won’t take but a few minutes to poach the egg and bread and fry the cheese.

Fromage Blanc on a Bed of Wine-Simmered Lentils with a Poached Duck Egg

1 cup green lentils
Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper
1/4 cup red wine

Several oz queso fresco (mine had garlic and sundried tomatoes in it) or other soft cheese
1 (regular) egg
flour
bread crumbs

1 duck egg

As I said above, start the lentils before anything else. Put the dried lentils in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes, adding water as needed. As they cook, check your seasonings periodically. Make sure they’re salted well and that the Old Bay and crushed red pepper flakes begin to make the flavor pop.

When they’re almost soft (not mushy), drain them and drizzle with some olive oil and make sure your seasonings are to your taste. Add the wine and turn up your heat a bit until the wine simmers underneath the lentils. Stir once or twice, cover the pot and let the whole thing gently simmer and flavors marry.

Meanwhile … Pat your cheese into a round ball. This can get kind of messy. After you’ve worked the cheese into a ball, flatten it into a flat patty shape. Dredge it in the flour, then in the egg and finally coat in breadcrumbs. Then roll it BACK in the egg and back in the breadcrumbs to create a nice thick crust that will hold up during frying. Set this aside.

Start a pot of water boiling for your egg. You’ll need it to be at a rolling boil, so make sure you’re ready. Don’t let the cheese get chilly after it’s fried (though with soft cheeses, it’s not as much of a problem as say, mozzarella, which just gets slimy). After you get your poaching water going, turn back to the cheese. Heat 1/4 inch of neutral oil in a pan. When it’s very hot – close to smoking – slip the cheese disc into the oil. It should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan. Brown it crisply on both sides and remove to a paper towel to drain.

While your egg is poaching, plate your lentils and place the cheese on the very top. When the egg is cooked to your taste, place it on top of the cheese and break open the yolk so that it runs over the cheese into the lentils. Instant sauce, people.

So I sat down with my one-lady dinner and a glass of wine. Aaaaaand it was delicious. I loved the texture of the duck egg. It felt very clean and the yolk was very rich. I’m glad I poached it … it might have been too greasy otherwise and totally ruined the clean richness from the egg, the pan fried fresh cheese and the wine soaked lentils.  And when I was finished, I felt wonderful. I love eating locally grown, healthy, organic food.

I hope this recipe didn’t sound too complex. Well, I DO hope it sounded fancy, but I hope you realized that it’s not difficult at all. For vegan options, I’d love to see this topped with tempura fried veggies – maybe avocado to mimic the creaminess of the cheese. What do you think?

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