My poor non-French people,
How can you live without mouillettes in your life?
If there’s one thing I miss here in the US, it’s ça.
A simple slice of French and perfect bread, fresh, with butter.
_Real butter, if I may. Not the whitish thing I see in most American restaurants. Come on my poor non French-people, what’s the point of eating fat if it has no taste? How can it be so dull? Do you make it with bleached cows?
So when I’m not dreaming of mimolette, veal brains (mmmmmh, tête de veau, my favorite!) or tablette de chocholat (God Bless Jean-Paul Hévin), I’m thinking of the be French butters: Isigny, Surgères, or, even better, la crème de la crème, Bordier…
Now you have tartines (bread and butter, order it at a café for breakfast, much better than the old croissants they sometimes give), and then you have even better : mouillettes.
Mouillettes are an instant back-to-childhood trip for every French and perfect woman (and man !). It’s a simple slice of bread and butter cut into thin slices, as large as a finger. They always come with an other delicious and simple treat: l’oeuf à la coque.
Oeuf a la coque
1 egg (the freshest)
Slice of bread
Oeuf à la coque is really one of these cocorico (pardon me, cock-a-doodle-doo) recipes that would make the gallic rooster, our national pet symbol, crow with pride. The grand Napoléon only ate his eggs that way (although it sadly didn’t help him to get taller) and it’s still on the menu of every family, almost once a week.
Oh, and once again, it’s delicious, and very easy.
It’s basically a soft-boiled egg, except that it’s really soflty boiled : the idea is that the white is solid, but the yolk stays runny : it has to be still liquid so that you can perform the best part of the dish :
soak your mouillettes in it.
Haaaa, the sweet mix of bread, butter, and egg yolk…
My favorite chef, Michel Bras, loves oeuf à la coque : he used to serve one as an amuse-bouche at the beginning of each meal.
He serves his eggs with wild flowers, cumin, black truffles or a shallot puree inside, for example.
Now there are as many ways of cooking oeufs à la coque as there are cheeses in my country : plenty !
Bras pretends that it’s better to start to cook them in cold water (plunge them in cold water, then set to boil).
Then you have Hervé This, a great French scientist who’s working with another very good French chef, Pierre Gagnaire. Each month Pierre would give Hervé a culinary question to solve with science.
They’ve worked a lot on eggs, and Hervé This has discovered that the best temperature to cook an oeuf à la coque is exactly 65°C, 149°F, for several hours, in the oven…
Most traditional cooking books talk about the 3/6/9 rule : 3 minutes for oeuf à la coque, 6 for oeuf mollet (soft boiled) , 9 for boiled.
But I must confess we do nothing of the sort at home.
Shhhh! Don’t tell my mom, but… My fiancé boils them for 4 minutes!
- Put water to a boil in a pan.
- Plunge the eggs.
- Leave for 4 minutes (OK, I’m more a 3 and a half person, but what… Sometimes you have to let men think they know better…)
- Put on ice so that it stops cooking.
- Then decapitate the egg (oui, that’s very French and very funny too ! )
But I guess you would have understood that the oeuf à la coque is nothing without mouillettes.
They are very easy to make, it’s often the first thing French kids do in the kitchen.
Just spread butter on a slice of bread, and cut it into thin slices, as large as a finger.
Then I spread salt on it…
Some people add a slice of ham, and as I wrote earlier, the great chef Michel Brad sometimes add spices, like cumin, on it.
Ready for the best French dip you’ll ever taste? (Btw, French dip sandwich absolutely doesn’t exist in France!)
Take your mouillette, sink it in the yellow egg, and have the best French breakfast at home
Bon appétit les amis!
PS : Never suggest to a French romantic aquaintance to go an cook an egg if he or she want to.
It could be badly interpreted : ” Va te faire cuire un oeuf” means “get lost”…
But you could sing him/her this great tune by French and perfect Henri Salvador and Boris Vian.
They were great artists of 1950’s Paris (Saint Germain, existentialism, jazz, Jean Paul Sartre and Miles Davis…) and loved to do make fun of american music of the time by mixing French and American expressions…
Here is “Va t’ faire cuire un oeuf, man!”