Saturday, May 5, 2012

Oeufs en Cocotte with Ramps

I love eggs.  I don't know why, but I really do.  My love affair with eggs is the reason that I love brunch so much.  I never order French toast at brunch and I rarely order pancakes (except for the macadamia nut pancakes at Boots & Kimo's in Hawaii - yum).  I order eggs - eggs benedict, baked eggs, fried eggs, etc.  I just love eggs.  So every weekend that Alex and I spend in NYC without brunch plans or visitors, I try to make eggs.  I generally can't convince him to go out to brunch with me so I bring brunch to us.  Usually I scramble the eggs but a few weekends ago I wanted to bake them to make use of the ramps I had picked up.  Baked eggs (or oeufs en cocotte if you're going to be all French about it) just feel so much more luxurious and indulgent than scrambled eggs.  When you cook the croutons in the eggs they soak up some of the eggs and crème fraîche and get all yummy, but retain some of their crunchy texture.  The croutons are my favorite part.  The ramps didn't provide as much flavor as I thought they would.  I really thought their flavor would pervade the dish, but it didn't.  That isn't to say that the flavor of the ramps disappeared entirely, but it certainly wasn't the dominant flavor here.  I tasted the tangy flavor of the crème fraîche and the creamy richness of the egg yolks, combined with the crunch and salty flavor of the croutons.  I'm not complaining.  It was just surprising because in the other dishes we have made with ramps the flavor has been much more distinct.  But as far as lazy weekend brunches at home go, this was a nice one.

Recipe after the jump!

Oeufs en Cocotte with Ramps
1 tbsp butter, divided
6 eggs
6-8 ramps, white parts finely chopped, and greens thinly sliced (whites and greens separated)
2 oz fresh mozzarella, torn 
handful homemade croutons
2 tbsp crème fraîche, divided 
1 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Warm au gratin dishes in oven for 5 minutes.  Remove au gratin dishes from oven and place in a baking dish.  Add 1/2 tbsp butter to each au gratin dish, using a knife or fork to move the butter around as it melts, ensuring that they are fully coated in butter.  Divide the whites parts of the ramps and cheese between the au gratin dishes, crack three eggs into each one and add croutons and about 1 tbsp of crème fraîche to each dish.  Sprinkle with parm-reg and thinly sliced green parts from the ramps.  Season with s&p.  Pour enough hot water into the baking dish to cover the au gratin dishes half way.  Bake until the egg white is just set and the yolk is still runny, about 12 minutes.  The eggs should still be a little wiggly in the ramekins, but shouldn't slosh around too much.  Note that if you plop down a huge spoonful of crème fraîche in the middle of the eggs (and don't break it up into smaller blobs of crème fraîche throughout the au gratin dish) the crème fraîche will continue to be very loose, even after the eggs are fully cooked.  Make sure you are looking at the egg whites and not the crème fraîche when you are deciding if the eggs are set.  Also, the eggs will continue to cook a little after you remove them from the oven, so keep that in mind.  Remove au gratins from oven and allow to cool at room temp for 1-2 minutes.
Serve hot.  I served with additional croutons, but you could also serve with toasted baguette slices.

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