A gastrique is a powerful little item to have in your kitchen toolbox. Sugar and vinegar is combined in a pot and boiled to a syrup, creating a sweet/sharp sauce perfect for rich items such as game. I love writers who talk about what goes well with game; unless you live in Downton Abbey or ultra-rural areas, you’re probably not consuming game most of the time. But gastriques work with cheese and, as we’ve discovered, another member of the rich dairy family: eggs.
Perhaps as a reaction to Easter and a weekend of dangerously high sugar intake, we used natural sugar in the form of beet juice. Or maybe we just wanted to slip a little beet into our kid’s diet. Beets have so much sugar you’d think they’d be more popular. But they do have that earthy hint of soil, which I suppose is the central objection. I happen to love beets, for the flavor, as well as their inherent drama: the unwashable and defiant blood red juice; and that organic, dirty aftertaste, conjuring images of hands pulling out roots from soil.
Just as jam on toast is great with a poached egg, a small spoonful of this beet-vinegar syrup wakes up a few fried eggs. Gathered eggs, plucked beets, hens and soil: it’s a farm on a plate. Which is refreshing for a city dweller, if not a city toddler. Yet.
Fried Eggs w/ Beet Gastrique
Serves 2 for a hearty breakfast
¾ cup beet juice
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
- Combine the juice, vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat until reduced to a syrup. You should have about 3 tablespoons. If not, add a bit of water, but you don’t want this to be watery.
- Meanwhile, divide the butter among two medium pans set over medium high heat. When hot (the bubbles have nearly subsided), add the eggs and fry gently, basting the yolk with the butter. If you like them more well done, cover the pans, but for this dish, runny is good.
- To serve, plate the eggs and spoon over a little of the syrup, season with salt and pepper.