I’ll admit to a certain degree of laziness in my attraction to oeufs en cocotte. (I will also admit to a bit of Francophilic tendency, hence my refusal to talk about this dish using its English name, eggs baked in ramekins.)
I do love eggs for supper – with a glass of spicy-floral Gewurztraminer and a green salad dressed with lemony vinaigrette, they feel awfully indulgent and grown-up. But scrambled eggs leave behind much of the charm, and who wants the pressure of flipping a traditional omelet?
The point of all of this is eating stupendously with minimal effort, and I see no reason to muck things up with unnecessary stress. (I understand not everyone will consider making an omelet a stressful endeavor, but those among us who have either worked in French kitchens or learned from French chefs will undoubtedly share the knee-knocking brand of terror I feel.)
But baking eggs in ramekins is no sacrifice. Dribble in a bit of cream and the yolks cook gently into a luxuriously quivering cream, perfect for bread-dunking and salad-dipping. I feel a natural inclination to use sweet herbs with this: mint, thyme and the like. But it’s just as nice – and perhaps a bit unexpected - to shake in a little smoked paprika. The color, as it swirls with the cream, is gorgeous. Fresh tarragon or chives, snipped and sprinkled over the eggs as soon as they’re baked would be nice too.
Photo by Stu Gallagher
Oeufs en Cocotte
- 2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream Salt, black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or fresh herbs, any variety.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place two 10-ounce ramekins in a casserole dish and rub the interiors with the butter. Crack two eggs into each ramekin and divide the cream between them. You may feel tempted to add in more cream, and I often am too. I urge you not to, though. Too much liquid will render the yolks fully cooked before the cream sets. Season with salt and pepper, and the paprika (if you are using fresh herbs, wait until the eggs are cooked). Stir the mixture gently, being careful not to break the yolks.
Pour hot water into the casserole dish, halfway up the sides of the ramekins – be mindful not to pour water into the eggs. Bake in the oven for 13 minutes, until cooked but still wiggly. Let cool a minute or two before serving.
*Note: I often fear that the ramekins aren’t cooked through and blitz them for much longer than originally planned. This always ends the same way, with overcooked yolks and blazing-hot cream. Try to trust that things will turn out all right with a shorter cooking time, but should things be a tad underdone, I can certainly think of worse things than extra-runny eggs.