French Croutes with Onion Jam and Scrambled Eggs

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    24

    ; makes

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

In southwest France, slices of dense baguette, thinly cut on the diagonal, are called croutes. Such slices are the perfect size to hold this incredibly savory topping. Needless to say, eating it requires a knife and fork.

This dish is a creation of Lucien Vanel, a former two-star chef from Toulouse, now retired. Typical of his cooking, it reveals his keen talent for contrasting textures and flavors. Here, crumbly bits of cooked black sausage and a dollop of long-simmered onions stud the creamy scrambled eggs.

Vanel taught me to scramble eggs in a small pan set in a larger one filled with simmering water to achieve the appropriate creaminess. (A double boiler gets too hot.) The trick is to undercook the eggs, then allow them to finish cooking off the fire in their receding heat. “If they look done,” Vanel told me, “then they’re already overcooked.”

Combine the topping and the croutes at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces finely diced meaty salt pork
  • ¾ pound red onions, finely sliced to make about 2 cups
  • Pinch of sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • Salt
  • 24 thin slices of day-old baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 small black sausage, sliced and fried until crusty and crumbly (½ cup), optional

Method

  1. Cook the salt pork in a small Dutch oven, covered, over low heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the red onions and sugar, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring from time to time, for 1 hour, or until the onions are a pale golden reddish-brown and very soft. If necessary, add a few drops of water to produce a spreadable marmalade consistency Season well with pepper. (The onion jam can be prepared up to 4 days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator.)
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl. Add the crème fraîche and beat until well combined. Place the butter in a small saucepan in a larger pot of simmering water. Add the eggs and cook, stirring, until they are barely cooked and soft and smooth, 5 to 10 minutes. Take the 2 pans off the heat and allow the eggs to finish cooking in the receding heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon the eggs onto the bread. Top with a spoonful of onion jam and a good pinch of crumbled black sausage, if you have it. Serve at once.