Egg, watercress, Jambugo ham and hazelnut

A perfectly cooked egg bathes in a pool of watercress in this stunning starter from Raymond Blanc. Best served between April and December, when the ingredients are in season, the dish is finished with a turkey jus and deliciously salty Iberico ham.

'This is a wholesome dish that we have cooked at Le Manoir for many years. Of course its success depends very much on the quality of each ingredient, but most of all on the freshness of the eggs. There are good eggs and bad eggs; for me a bad egg is one which is older than one day. In a good egg the white is tightly gathered around the yolk, in a perfect round shape, and so easy to poach. A bad egg, on the other hand, will make your life miserable, as the white has started to break down and when poaching will spread all over the pan in an egg white cobweb. The best way to check if your eggs are fresh is to break one on a plate; a fresh egg will have its white tight to the yolk, and when you press it, it will bounce back. Then, and only then, will you succeed.'

Follow Raymond on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Recipe © Raymond Blanc.

First published in 2020

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Watercress purée

Slow-cooked egg

  • 4 eggs, free-range and very fresh
  • 40ml of white wine vinegar, if poaching the eggs (optional)

Turkey jus

Watercress dressing

To serve

  • 40g of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 ficelle, (a type of thin French baguette), made into croutons then broken into large crumbs
  • 20g of Iberico ham, ideally Pata Negra de Bellota from Jambugo, chopped
  • 10g of hazelnuts, roasted and crushed
  • 2 sprigs of chives, finely chopped
  • 2g of micro herbs, or cress

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Sous vide equipment (optional)

Method

1
Begin by making the turkey jus – this will make more than you need but and leftover will freeze well. Place a large roasting tray over a medium-high heat and add two-thirds of the duck fat. Brown the turkey meat for 15 minutes in the fat, stirring every 3-4 minutes until evenly golden all over
2
Meanwhile, add the remaining duck fat to a large casserole dish (around 30cm in diameter) and cook the onion, garlic and celery for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, thyme and rosemary and cook for a further 5 minutes
3
Once the turkey pieces are evenly coloured, strain off the duck fat. Deglaze the tray with the cold water, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the sediment on the bottom of the tray. Transfer the contents of the tray (including the turkey meat) to the casserole of vegetables, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 1 hour, skimming occasionally to obtain a clear stock
  • 500ml of water
4
While the stock simmers, prepare the watercress purée. Place a large saucepan over a low heat and add the butter. Cook the shallot for a few minutes until soft with no colour, then turn up the heat and add the spinach, watercress and parsley. Stir until completely wilted, then transfer to a large tray, spread out evenly and cool as quickly as possible
5
Once cool, place the mixture in a colander set over a bowl and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible (reserve the collected juices for making the dressing later). Finely chop the watercress mix, then fold into the whipped cream. Season and store in the fridge until ready to reheat
6
After simmering the turkey stock for 1 hour, strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large clean saucepan. Reduce the stock by a third to roughly 250ml, to create a jus. Stir in the diluted cornflour and gently boil for 1 minute, then taste for seasoning. Leave to cool, then chill until ready to reheat
  • 1 pinch of cornflour, diluted in 4 tbsp cold water
7
For the watercress dressing, blanch the watercress in boiling water for 1 minute, then strain and transfer to iced water to refresh. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the leaves, then place in a blender. On full speed, drizzle in both the oils until completely smooth, then add around a tablespoon of the reserved juices from making the watercress purée to loosen. Taste for seasoning, then pass through a fine sieve and reserve in the fridge
8
There are two ways to cook the eggs for this dish – either poached or sous vide. To sous vide the eggs, bring a water bath to 63°C and place the whole eggs, still in their shells, into the water to cook for 25 minutes
  • 4 eggs, free-range and very fresh
9
To poach the eggs, bring a litre of water and 40ml of white wine vinegar to the boil in a medium saucepan. Crack each egg into a separate small bowl, then stir the water with a spoon to create a whirlpool. Gently tip each egg into the centre of the swirling water and cook for 3 minutes at just below simmering point. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the water and drain on a cloth
  • 40ml of white wine vinegar, if poaching the eggs (optional)
10
You now have all the elements ready to serve this dish. Gently reheat the watercress purée for 2 minutes, and bring the turkey jus to the boil
11
Meanwhile, take 20g of the butter for serving and cook until a beurre noisette forms, then set aside. Place the remaining 20g of butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat and gently pan-fry the eggs on one side only for 1 minute (if you have used sous vide to cook the eggs, crack them into the pan; if you’ve poached them, simply transfer them from the cloth to the pan)
12
To serve, place the watercress purée in the centre of the plate, then top with an egg, fried-side up. Garnish with the beurre noisette, croutons, ham, hazelnuts and chives. Drizzle over the watercress dressing and a little turkey jus, then finish with the micro herbs
  • 1/2 ficelle, (a type of thin French baguette), made into croutons then broken into large crumbs
  • 20g of Iberico ham, ideally Pata Negra de Bellota from Jambugo, chopped
  • 10g of hazelnuts, roasted and crushed
  • 2 sprigs of chives, finely chopped
  • 2g of micro herbs, or cress

A legend amongst legends, Raymond Blanc's impact on the UK's food scene over the past three decades is unmatched.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.