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.
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.]