I need to start by saying that every time I make baked eggs, I pull out Joel's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cuisine just so I can double check my oven temperature (375 degrees). I owe this (and many, many other delicious ideas) to Julia Child.
But this is my version and through the process of trial and error, I figured out some things that are NOT in Julia's original recipe and that you should DEFINITELY KNOW if you want to get this one right.
First off, don't waste your money on fancy schmancy "ramekins." The perfect vessel for a baked egg is an 8 oz Kerr wide-mouth jelly jar. You can buy them for under a dollar each (and then use them for food storage!) (They're the perfect size for putting mac 'n cheese in your kids lunch box!) (And unlike tupperware, these jars are 100% microwave, oven and dishwasher safe AND you can use them to make jelly.) Also, they're pretty much perfectly Portland chic.
You'll also need some eggs. One to two per person. If you happen to have access to FRESH, FREE-RANGE eggs, you will love this recipe times a gazillion. (Baked eggs are VERY RICH, so one egg per person is usually plenty...)
You can see from the photo above that my chickens are being COMPLETE BRATS. Lucy (the gray chicken who lays the white eggs) is producing 1-2 eggs a day. In spite of the fact that she can LITERALLY fly out of the coop and has been doing so every day just to eat my vegetable garden starts, she is totally my favorite chicken.The other two chickens aren't worth their weight in feed. The Queen Bitch (Teri) (whose sister, Yaki, died before we moved in) only lays one ENORMOUS egg a month (in spite of eating 80% of the food) and her second in command (Zola) is only laying two-three times a week. Let's just say as soon as the baby Americaunas start laying, Zola and Teri are gonna make for some delicious soup!
Anyway, to make baked eggs, you absolutely need the following ingredients:
EGGS (one to two per person) (If you don't have chickens, spring for the most expensive, most local, most organic, most brightly colored, most free-range eggs you can find. I would never EVER say this about milk, but it's true for eggs.)
From there you can add virtually ANYTHING YOU WANT. We've added everything from prosciutto to spinach and never been disappointed. (Even with piss-poor production, we still get a lot of eggs.)
Before I go any further, I should tell you the two big secrets that Julia Child forgot to add to her original recipe:
1) Your eggs should be ROOM TEMPERATURE. We're freaky about eggs in this country, but the truth is they don't actually need to be refrigerated as much as we think they do. If you're lucky and ALL THREE of your hens lay in one day, you can just go out and grab those eggs while they're still warm and they'll be IDEAL for this recipe.
2) HEAT UP THE CREAM. Don't boil it, but get it as hot as possible without doing so.
Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and filling an oven-proof skillet with enough water so that after you add all your jelly jars, the water is about 3/4 of an inch deep. Butter your jelly jars and plop them in the water. Get that water simmering and then add about a tablespoon of cream to each jar.
I like to heat up my cream with a little bit of parmesan cheese, some white or green pepper and a dash of nutmeg, but that's totally optional.
- coarse stone-ground mustard
- hot dogs (Shut up, you know your kids would LOVE IT.)
- black beans and salsa
- chicken and parmesan cheese
- chicken livers (according to Julia)
The list could go on forever. Anything you have EVER put inside an omelet can be used for a baked egg.
Whatever you do, just make sure your ingredients are room temperature, if not hot.
Then add an egg (or two) to each jelly jar.
Top each egg(s) with a tablespoon or two of HOT cream. If the cream isn't hot, your egg whites will be runny. (This is the biggest problem with Julia's original recipe!)
Put the entire pan in the oven. Preferably on the rack that's one notch above the middle.
EVEN IF THEY DON'T LOOK DONE, TAKE THEM OUT AFTER TEN MINUTES. If your eggs were room temperature and your cream was hot, THEY ARE DONE.
(I've made the mistake of overcooking them more than twice...)
(They won't look done, but they are.)
Baked eggs are best eaten with a spoon, maybe some hash browns, a blueberry muffin and DEFINITELY a fresh-squeezed mimosa.
(Or if you're under age, fresh squeezed OJ in a champagne glass with diet 7-Up.) We eat these almost every Sunday. This past Sunday, I had my entire local family over and I let people choose their own ingredients almost like an omelet bar. I ended up baking over a dozen eggs.
(It's also totally gluten free!)