Shirred eggs is not a dish you see often on menus. This dish is usually referred to by its French name, ouefs en cocotte, which simply translated means “eggs baked in a ramekin.” Hidden underneath a layer of softly cooked egg, cream, and butter are savory surprises of your choosing. You can add bits of leftovers, such as mushrooms or greens, a little diced tomato, some diced ham. Try a little smoked salmon, capers and green onions. Add some cooked sausage or bacon, and grated cheese. Or, try using crabmeat or cooked shrimp. Experiment!
You can also be extravagant and use a few drops of truffle oil and fresh herbs. Chives are wonderful in shirred eggs. You could even flavor the cream with a little sherry or add tomato paste to it for color.
Be sure to have some nice bread for toasting, as it is a pleasure to dip little planks of toast into the yolks. This is an easy dish for romance – simple to do without a lot of fuss, and a few choice ingredients make this dish very special. Serve with fruit salad and champagne and you have very special brunch. Even without extras tossed in, if you start with really good eggs, this dish is great.
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons cream at room temperature
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
4 four-ounce ramekins
A baking dish that will just hold the ramekins without touching, but without too much space between them
Enough very hot water to come halfway up the ramekin sides
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly butter the ramekins and place in the baking dish.
Put 1 tablespoon of cream into each ramekin.
Add whatever “extras” you like, such as vegetables, meats (or truffle oil) to the dish. Use 2-3 tablespoons “extras” per ramekin, at most.
Break an egg into each ramekin.
Season well with salt and pepper, and sprinkle some of the herbs over each egg. (If you wish, add grated cheese at this point.)
Cut the remaining butter into pea sized bits and evenly distribute it among the four dishes.
Transfer the baking dish to the oven, and carefully pour hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Be careful not to pour too fast or the ramekins may tip over.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft in the center.
Using a spatula and tongs, carefully remove the ramekins from the hot water and set on a towel to remove any excess water from them. Serve.
NOTE: If you wish to serve two eggs per person, use a 6-ounce ramekin and use 2 tablespoons of cream per person. Increase the butter a little as well. Adjust cooking time – the eggs will take a little longer to cook as well.
YIELD: 4 servings
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen