Saturday, January 9, 2010

broil your eggs for a change

The word "broiled" isn't the finest or most elegant, but the eggs that result from this recipe surely are, with very little effort. This is a great recipe for house guests, or a leisurely brunch with your mate sans children (although, kids like these eggs, too). I found this recipe in Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris cookbook, which I received as a gift from a good friend who also loves to eat. It's a very concise book that serves as a thoughtful introduction to French cooking, with an emphasis on simple, beautiful food, such as this dish.

As with most egg recipes, the key to this one is timing. The cooking times listed below work well for my oven and baking dish, but it will take you a few tries to perfect this recipe. The good news is that these eggs still taste good slightly overcooked, so don't worry if you miss the mark. It's also critical to use the best eggs you can find, since there isn't much else in the dish - 99 cent CostCo eggs will taste like 99 cents.

ingredients

  • 8 very fresh, large eggs (organic, free range if at all possible)
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced with a knife (don't use a press, as it will taste too strong)
  • 1/2 cup finely (and freshly) grated super-hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, minced (thyme, rosemary, basil, or parsley work well)
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 slices of crusty bread (toasted or warmed)
equipment
  • 4 small gratin dishes (just large enough to hold 2 eggs) or a ceramic/glass baking dish (large enough so that 8 eggs are about 1.5 inches deep).
*I use a baking dish because I don't have gratin dishes, so the process and timing described below may not work as well for several smaller dishes.

technique
  1. Preheat your oven using the broil setting (Note: my oven has a drawer-style broiler, below the main oven space. When I set it to broil the drawer and oven heat up, which is useful in this recipe.)
  2. Using a fork, mix the garlic, herbs, and cheese in a small bowl until well combined.
  3. Liberally grease the gratin dishes or baking dish with some of the butter. Pour in the cream so that it covers most of the bottom of the dish. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and scatter these around the baking dish. Place the dish in the oven and heat until the cream begins to bubble and brown slightly around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on stove top.
  4. Carefully crack the eggs into the dish so that the yolks remain whole. Try to keep them evenly dispersed. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and the cheese/herb/garlic mixture.
  5. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the whites begin to set up but the yolks and tops of the eggs are still liquid.
  6. Move the dish into to the broiler drawer and cook 2-4 additional minutes, or until the top has browned slightly, the eggs are somewhat firm (it's good if the whites are a bit runny), and the yolks are still soft (some yolks may be softer than others - that's ok). This is the part of the recipe that takes the most practice, as it's really a visual judgment. Keep in mind that the eggs will continue to cook in the hot dish after you remove them from the broiler, so use a knife to see how thorough they're cooked and check them again after resting on the counter top for a few minutes.
  7. To serve, use a knife to cut eggs into sections and use a spatula to gently place them on plates with the bread on the side.
*Serves 4 people