What does your perfect Sunday morning look like? Mine involves sleeping late, a delicious breakfast involving eggs, a pot of coffee for Paul, maybe a mimosa for me and the newspapers.
Eggs en cocotte or Oeufs en cocotte (to be more correct) is a decadent little egg breakfast dish that’s just right for such a morning. Fresh eggs with runny yellow yolks cozily nestled in a bed of bubbling hot sautéed spinach and flavorful ham bound together by a creamy sauce with just a hint of garlic and cheese. I like to scoop up the spinach and ham, slather it on toast points and then dip into the egg yolk.
Don’t let the name make you think it’s some super complicated recipe.
Ouefs = Eggs
En Cocotte = In a casserole
So it’s basically just baked eggs, but bonus points if you call everyone to the table by announcing “Oeufs en cocotte sont prêt!” with your best French pronunciation 😉 You can use any small oven-proof dish, a ramekin works well or you could be more literal and use one of those cute baby Le Creuset or Staub Dutch ovens.
Think of this recipe as more of a suggestion or starting point for your egg baking addiction because I’m guessing you won’t only make this once! I like to pair a really tasty baked ham (Niman Ranch Jambon Royale for example) with nutritious spinach but you can swap the ham for crispy cooked bacon or skip it for extra veggies if you’re not a meat eater. If you’re not a fan of spinach, consider sautéed mushrooms, wilted kale, baked zucchini slices, a tangle of caramelized onions, ripe tomatoes – so many possibilities!
I’m rating this recipe medium difficulty because there’s a slightly tricky part in deciding when the eggs are done baking. You can’t stick a thermometer in the egg (unless you want to burst the yolk) and even though I’ve included cooking times it’s going to vary according to the depth of your ramekins, the exact size of your eggs and the accuracy of your oven), you’ll have to jiggle the dishes to judge the level of done. I’ve found that sometimes by the time the egg whites have cooked then yolk is also cooked through but swapping the last few minutes of baking for broiling stops this happening.
eggs en cocotte or baked eggs
Small piece of butter
~4 oz spinach (use more than you think, it wilts down to nothing!)
4 slices of good ham
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove
~1 tbsp grated cheese – parmesan or gruyere
You’ll need small dishes/ramekins/baby Dutch ovens to cook the eggs in, plus a baking tray or dish large enough to hold the ramekins in their hot water bath.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and put kettle/pan of water on to boil.
- Melt small knob of butter in pan, quickly cook spinach until just wilted.
- While spinach cooks, butter ramekins (so ham and spinach doesn’t stick) and layer ham on the bottom (taste the ham and if it’s salty you can reduce your seasoning as you cook).
- Add cooked spinach on top of ham leaving a hollow in the middle for the eggs.
- Wipe out pan (or else you’ll have green sauce). Gently crush a peeled garlic clove with the side of a knife (you want to just break the clove open to add just a hint of garlic).
- Add cream and garlic to pan over a high heat, add a pinch of salt (less if your ham is salty) and fresh ground black pepper and bring to the boil. Watch carefully as cream has a tendency to boil over, just lift pan from heat if this happens. Bubble furiously, stirring constantly and scraping down edges for ~5 minutes until cream has thickened. If you scrape your spoon across the pan you should see a trail in the cream. Remove from heat. Remove the garlic and add a little grated cheese (parmesan or gruyere) and stir to combine.
- Divide cream between the dishes and add a fresh egg to each one. If you’re a nervous egg cracker, crack egg onto small saucer first to check you haven’t broken the yolk and then slide into hollow.
- Put the egg dishes into the larger baking dish and pour in boiling water around the dishes so the water level is about halfway up the side (the water helps to cook the eggs more gently). Pop in 350 degree oven for ~10 minutes until the spinach is bubbling hot and the egg whites are just starting to turn opaque. Turn on the broiler (keep a constant watch!) and broil for 1-3 minutes so the eggs are just cooked with the yolk still runny (of course you can cook them for longer if you prefer a fully cooked yolk). The dishes will be super hot so be careful getting them out of the water bath.
Serve with hot buttered toast soldiers (strips of toast perfect for dipping).