Eggs Nouvelle Orleans

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POACHED EGGS AND CRABMEAT WITH BRANDIED CREAM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon strained fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt

CRABMEAT AND EGGS

8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits
1 pound fresh crabmeat, thoroughly drained and picked over
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 eggs
1/2 teaspoon paprika

FIRST PREPARE THE SAUCE IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER

In a heavy 2 to 3-quart saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent but not brown. Add the flour and mix well. Stirring constantly with a wire whisk, pour in the milk in a slow, thin stream and cook over high heat until the sauce comes to a boil, thickens and is smooth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 or 3 minutes to remove any taste of raw flour.

In a small pan, warm the brandy over low heat and ignite it with a match, then slide the pan back and forth gently until the flames die. Stir the brandy, the lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt into the sauce and taste for seasoning. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep the sauce warm until you are ready to use it.

FOR THE CRABMEAT AND EGGS

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter bits over moderate heat. Add the crabmeat and toss gently about with a spoon until the meat is very hot and evenly moistened. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and, with a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the skillet into an 8 to 10-inch round shallow baking-serving dish. Drape with foil to keep the crabmeat warm.

TO POACH THE EGGS

Pour cold water into a 12-inch skillet to a depth of about 2 inches. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat so that the suface of the liquid barely shimmers. Break the eggs into individual saucers. Gently slide one egg into the water and, with a large spoon, lift the white over the yolk. Repeat once or twice more to enclose the yolk in the white.

One at a time, slide the 7 other eggs into the pan, enclosing them in their whites and spacing them an inch apart. Poach the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks feel soft to the touch.

TO SERVE - With a slotted spatula, arrange the poached eggs on the crabmeat. Spoon the brandied cream sauce over the eggs and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter bits and the paprika. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve the Eggs Nouvelle Orleans at once, directly from the baking dish.

Serves 4