Oeuf en Cocotte
Oeufs en Cocotte, also known as Baked Eggs, are clearly a French invention. When I first tried them in France, it was love at first sight. Immediately, a multitude of variations on the same theme were racing through my mind. It is one of those recipes that your (older) kids can quickly learn, so that they may “surprise” you on a lazy Sunday, or maybe on Father’s Day, with a beautiful and exquisite breakfast. Or that you can prepare ahead when you have houseguests: just pop the prepared dish in the oven and ..voila’! A sophisticated and really incredible breakfast is on your table, without even dirtying a pan.
It is a very simple concept that gets elevated to the rank of an absolute delice with the help of good, seasonal ingredients, a little, oh very little preparation, and barely 15 minutes in the oven. Really not much for a dish that is fulfilling, luscious, and healthy. The eggs cook with the juices of the vegetables, and, if you really insist, you can add a tablespoon of cream.
Two steps are absolutely a must to achieve perfection: you must cook and sauté your vegetables beforehand. And you must bake the ramekins au bain-marie, in a water bath, otherwise the mixture will get too hot and you will lose the wonderful slight un-doneness that makes the egg yolk runny.
For 4 portions
½ pound cremini mushrooms, or other kind
3-4 leave of sage
2 cloves of garlic
3-4 cups of fresh spinach
EV Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
4 tablespoons of cheese that melts easily (I used Brie, authentic Fontina also works wonders)
4 tablespoons of Cream (optional)
1. Turn on the oven on Convection bake 350 F
2. Slice the rinsed mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and olive oil, chopped garlic, add the sage leaves cut in pieces. Mix gently.
3. Sauté the mushrooms in a nonstick pan, on high, until they start to get golden brown. Set aside.
4. In the same pan add some EVOO, add the spinach, and cook until they become wilted, stirring frequently. Do not overcook. Keep the juices and set aside.
5. In the same pan, sauté the shallots with a tablespoon of EVOO until translucent, caramelized
6. Spray the ramekins with EVOO. Add the three vegetables, all mixed together or on three different sections. Make a hole in the middle, add the cream if desired, break the eggshell and gently pour the egg in the hole.
7. Adjust with salt and pepper, add the cheese on top, some cut chives.
8. Get an Ovenproof pan or dish, fill it with hot water – about 1 inch high.
9. Dispose the ramekins in the water, and carefully put everything in the oven.
10. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the center of the egg is wobbly but the egg white is set.
11. Serve with slices of bread.
A Few Notes:
- You can add all kind of ingredients to this recipe: salmon is a great option, or some cherry tomatoes, or tomato sauce (that would substitute the cream very well).
- Or if you think that less is more, you can prepare it with only one vegetable: leeks are also a great option!
- You can prepare this dish in advance, just add the eggs at the last minute before baking.
- Do not start with cold water for the water bath: it would take too long to warm up and the eggs would become overcooked.
Elisabetta Ciardullo is the founder of Think Italian! Events. As Personal Chef she is an ambassador of the Italian cuisine and culture, bringing it into the private homes of Americans, as well as to many corporate clients in Los Angeles.