I didn’t have any partridge on hand for this recipe, but I did have some pheasant and chicken left over from a birthday dinner, so I decided to use that instead.
It may not look like much on the plate, but the taste of this breakfast is incomparable. On somewhat of a whim, I chose to place the dish on a slice of toast, making it a bit more breakfast-centered. This was a great way to enjoy it, but I could also see how it would be a wonderful and hearty meal dished up in a wooden bowl, too.
The rich, savory gravy with bits of shredded meat in it, is lightly but warmly spiced, giving it an old-world feel. A soft poached egg on top, the yolk of which runs into the gravy and toast, makes each bite creamy. All in all, it is a bit of an involved breakfast, but amazingly delicious and unique, and certainly worth trying at least once.
Anywhere in Westeros. All it needs is some game birds, or even chicken, so it would suit most regions. Perhaps not Dorne, but I could easily see it being served in Winterfell, the Reach, King’s Landing, and on the Wall.
Recipe for Crazy Historical Poached Eggs
To Poach Eggs. Take a dozen of new laid Eggs and flesh of four or five Partridges, or other; mince it so smal as you can season it with a few beaten Cloves, Mace, and Nutmeg, into a Silver Dish, with a Ladlefull or two of the Gravy of Mutton, wherein two or three Anchoves are dissolved; then set it a stewing on a fire of Char-coals; and after it is half stewed, as it boyles break in your Eggs one by one , and as you break them, pour away most part of the whites, and with one end of your Egg-shel, make a place in your dish of meat, and therein put your yolks of your Eggs round in order amongst your meat, and so let them stew till your Eggs be enough, then grate in a little Nutmeg, and the juyce of a couple of Oranges; have a care none of the seeds go in, wipe your dish and garnish your dish, with four or five whole Onyons, &c. – Compleat Cook, 1655
Cook’s Notes: I’ve somewhat adapted the recipe to better suit a modern pantry. Since most of us don’t have a pot of mutton gravy simmering away on the stovetop, I’ve included simple instructions for a chicken-based gravy made from leftovers. I’ve also omitted some of the stranger ingredients, such as onion garnish, orange juice, and anchovies, although I could certainly see the latter being a tasty addition. It made me wonder if some trace of this dish might date back to Ancient Rome, when almost all food had fish in it…
- ~6 eggs, for poaching
- 1 leftover roast chicken
- pinch each ground mace, nutmeg, and clove
- chicken broth
- 4 Tbs. butter
- 4 Tbs. flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- slices of toasted bread
The Night Before:
Strip all the usable meat from the chicken carcass and lay aside. Put the bones in a large pot, cover with water, and simmer for several hours. Strain into a clean container and place in the fridge overnight.
The Next Morning:
Skim off and discard any fat that has collected at the top of the broth.
To make the gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the flour to it, stirring the two together. Let this cook for a minute or two, until it is golden and bubbling. While whisking the flour-butter, add a ladle of broth. The mixture should thicken quickly. Continue adding broth until it seems to stop thickening.
Shred the meat, and season with salt and spices. Ideally, you’ll have a couple of cups of shredded meat. Combine the meat with the gravy in a saucepan, and place over medium heat. As it starts to bubble, make a series of small divots in the broth, and carefully crack the eggs into the mixture.
Gently spoon hot gravy over the eggs, so that it cooks on top as well as underneath. The challenge in poaching an egg in gravy is that it’s not as visible as when done in water, so it may take a couple of tries before you get the hang of it. It should be finished when the white is set, and the yolk is still soft.
When the egg is done, scoop it out of the pan along with a generous portion of the meaty gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve on top of toast, or in a bowl.
Depending on how many you are serving, you may need to bolster the gravy mixture with extra broth, in order for the liquid to be deep enough to properly poach the eggs.