Poached eggs atop garlic mushrooms licked with chocolatey chilli

“But Woolf had me buying them in mixed bags: portobellos and chestnuts, buttons and chanterelles, and skirling them in butter and thyme, and eating them on toast with a Sassoon soft-boiled egg tipped out of its shell over the top.”

-Laura Freeman, The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite


The Chief Taster, being more of a morning person, does weekday breakfasts. But on Saturdays I usually make poached eggs on Marmite toast, and on Sundays it’s avocado, smoked salmon and cottage cheese.

Every now and then, though, it’s healthy to break out of such comfortable, entrenched habits. So this week, instead of the Marmite toast, I experimented with garlicy mushrooms and sweet, spicy brioche.

The chocolatey chilli is the wonderful fermented Urfa pepper flakes – for more on those, follow this link.

This is quite a serious meal, so you could also enjoy it for brunch; or for lunch.

Alternatively you could use smaller mushrooms and quails’ eggs, making a mini-version which would be an intriguing starter. For how to make Mushroom-embraced Quails’ Eggs follow this link.

You can make a lot of the dish ahead – the oil obviously, but you can also poach eggs a couple of days ahead, and simply refresh briefly in boiling water, and you could paint and half cook the mushrooms, so that all you had to do before serving would be finish the mushrooms and cook the brioche for seven minutes, flash the already-poached eggs in some boiling water and enlist the help of a friend to dollop on the sour cream as you plate up.

Obviously quails’ eggs take less time to cook – for how to cook quails’ eggs, follow this link.


Recipe for poached eggs atop garlic mushrooms licked with chocolatey chilli

Serves 3


  • 3 large Portobello mushroom (each will weigh 60-70g/2-3 oz)
  • 80 ml/⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with ½ tsp smoked salt
  • ¼ tsp Urfa pepper flakes, plus a pinch more for serving
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 thickish slices of brioche
  • 3 tbsps sour cream or crème fraîche
  • Generous grinds of black pepper, ideally Indonesian long pepper (grind one long peppercorn in a mortar and pestle)
  • 3 sprigs of basil – about six leaves; or tarragon would also be successful.


  1. Make the garlic oil ahead of time (you can do this the day before) – mix the oil, crushed garlic-salt, pepper, Urfa chilli flakes and cinnamon all together.
  2. Preheat the oven to 210°C.
  3. Get a pan of water with a little white wine vinegar boiling for the poached eggs.
  4. Meanwhile peel the mushrooms, and paint the top with the garlic oil.
  5. Put them, top down, on a large baking tray (big enough for both brioche slices and mushrooms) lined with silicon paper. Paint the insides with the garlic oil.
  6. Put in the oven for 14 minutes.
  7. Paint one side of the brioche with the rest of the oil (if you have any left over pour into the mushrooms).
  8. About 7 minutes into the cooking of the mushrooms take them out, and add the brioche slices, painted side up, to the baking tray. Return to the oven for the remaining 7 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, poach the eggs in your normal way (if you have never poached an egg before follow this link for how to do it).
  10. When the mushrooms and brioche are ready take them out, put a slice of brioche on each plate, top with a mushroom, place the poached egg in the hollow, top with sour cream, sprinkle over a pinch more of Urfa pepper flakes, and tear over a couple of leaves of basil.
  11. Serve immediately.


poached eggs on mushrooms


Music to listen to

Did you know that the mazurka in Delibes’ Coppelia was written to be played at breakfast?

Enjoy this jolly music as you tuck into your eggs and mushrooms.




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