Food You Can Eat: Baked Eggs, Either Shirred or With Mushrooms, Spinach, and Gruyère

The incredible, edible egg

In a random comment I mentioned that on a warm summer evening I made baked eggs with mushrooms, spinach, and Gruyère. Being me, I threw in the fact that shirred eggs are just baked eggs. Shirred eggs, though, are served individually. Pitter, patter, let’s get at ‘er, as my friends in Letterkenny, ON, say.

Shirred Eggs

The best recipe I know is from Julia Child. She uses the French term, Oeufs en Cocotte. Eggs in a cocotte, which is like a Dutch oven, but they come in all different sizes. I do not have a variety of cocottes, I bet you don’t, and at this point I doubt very many French people do. So let’s make them in our trusty ramekins. This is the second recipe I’ve posted that uses ramekins, by the way.

4 8-oz. ramekins

4 large eggs

A little butter

Some heavy cream, maybe 6 tablespoons, divided

Salt and pepper


Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Put a little butter in each ramekin, and spoon 1 tsp. cream in each. In a large saucepan, bring a shallow depth of water to a simmer and squeeze the ramekins in there. Gotcha! But you do this for a very good reason. Simmering first will kind of temper the eggs and the whites won’t burn in the oven while the yolks remain not cooked enough. When the butter-cream is hot, CAREFULLY crack an egg into each ramekin, making sure not to break the yolk. Then put a little more butter on the eggs and spoon over the rest of your cream. This is a Julia Child recipe, after all.

Your ramekins will be ovenproof, so put them in the oven and bake for 7—10 minutes, until the whites have “set” (they are firm and no longer look gluey) and the yolks wiggle a little but are not raw. Take them out of the oven (they’ll keep cooking for at least a couple of minutes) and sprinkle over salt and pepper.

[Dearest Cousin Matthew, how hard is it to just hard boil 4 eggs and be fucking done with it? No, that won’t do.]

You’ll have some room in your ramekins so you can also sauté some mushrooms and put those between the cream and the dropped-in egg. Also, what I do is when the ramekins are fresh from the oven I sprinkle on grated-in-advance cheese, I usually use a sharp white cheddar, but I bet parmesan would be good. 

Baked Eggs With Mushrooms, Spinach, and Gruyère

Shirred eggs are kind of a breakfast/brunch/lunch thing, certainly people 100+ years ago thought so. For dinner, you will want to make something more substantial. Several recipes exist that make baked eggs with two of the three other ingredients, but I say “Go big or go home” and use all three. Here’s a simple (IT’S ALL RELATIVE) recipe slightly adapted from The Food Network. A variation on this is what I made that warm summer evening. It is very rich and I don’t think I’d attempt leftovers.

A little extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups of white mushrooms, sliced up

4 cups of baby spinach

4 slices of decent toasted white bread but I bet wheat would work. I wouldn’t use rye or 7-grain. Martha Stewart has a similar recipe but I don’t think she uses the oven, and she uses naan.

4 large eggs

1/3 cup whole milk. Do not use non-fat, believe me.

3/4 cup shredded Gruyère


Now despite the heat outside, I should mention that my apartment stays pretty cool. We have these massive in-unit air conditioners but we rarely use them, because in the summer we live like Londoners during the Blitz and have blackout shades deployed during the daylight hours, especially in the afternoon. We also have powerful ceiling fans in every room, so you always have this vaguely uncomfortable feeling that you’ve summited a mountain. And finally, I happened to have all this stuff in the fridge and I wanted to clear space to rotate the stock.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Heat up some olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the onion for about 8 minutes, giving it the occasional stir. Add the mushrooms and leave this alone for 2 minutes. Now start stirring occasionally and let go for 4 more minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for abut 2 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Move to another (unused) burner to take it off the heat.

Home Chef’s Tip: When I do multi-step cooking like this (“4 minutes then 8 minutes then 3 minutes, etc.”) I use the microwave timer, because I can reach it easily as it is wall-mounted over my stove. 

Now, brush an 8X8 baking dish with a little olive oil and put in the four bread slices in a square single layer. It’s OK they overlap a little. Spoon the mushroom mixture over. Make a little cavity near each corner and crack each egg into one, but try not to let the whites drip over to the edge(s). Also be careful not to break the yolks. Pour on salt and pepper if you want. I used some garlic and oregano powder. Pour the milk over all of it and sprinkle on the Gruyère. This is a lot of cheese so use less if you want. I would have used more but I didn’t want to end up with a firm crust. Put it in the oven for 25—30 minutes so that, like our friends the shirred eggs, the whites firm up (“set”) but the yolks are still a little runny.

[Dearest Cousin Matthew, couldn’t you have just made fucking egg salad sandwiches with a spinach layer and a little bowl of cold marinated mushrooms? No, I could not. We are not wolves scavenging in a Siberian forest or something.]



  1. I love an elaborate egg dish and this makes me crave some shakshuka. I’m far too lazy and impatient to make it, though, so I’ll just salivate over these recipes.

  2. I make a similar dish but I just do it entirely with a large saucepan and basically poach the egg in whatever’s in the saucepan after making little divets with a spoon to cook the egg in.

    I think the version you posted sounds much better, but alas, I am lazy.

    • It’s much more likely that you have a life and a normal attention span whereas I have not nearly enough productive diversions. Should I be buried by mistake (and not cremated, which is what I want) my headstone should read, “FINALLY I have enough time to tackle that recipe for…”

  3. This is wonderful! I have always wondered (vaugely) what a shirred egg is. Not enough to look it up, you know, but I always kind of pictured them as eggs with lots of ruffles.

    This recipe looks splendid, and I know it is something  hubs will really like. I will make it this week, which is great because I’m going through one of those blank periods where I can never figure out what to make for dinner. I know you said it’s not for dinner, but we like a bit of a lighter thing for dinner around here, and honestly, Gruyer is so rich that I think this will be quite filling. Cheers!

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