Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And what would a good breakfast be without the eggs?!
But, I don’t know about you, I often get sick of eating the same old omelettes, sunny side up, hard boiled and scrambled eggs. I like to mix it up and find interesting ways to cook my eggs.
I picked up a few cocottes a couple months ago while shopping at the St. Lawrence Market (what else is new?!). They’re these cute, little black dishes that look like miniature Dutch ovens. I originally got them for my Brussels sprout mac and cheese that I made a little while ago. But I knew I eventually wanted to use them to make a classical French breakfast dish: oeufs en cocotte (eggs en cocotte).
Don’t be intimidated – eggs en cocotte is a fancy shmancy-sounding French dish; but it’s super easy to make! Cocotte means casserole in French. Hence why “oeufs en cocotte” or “eggs en cocotte” is the name of this dish, because the eggs are baked in mini cocotte/casserole dishes. The English also have their version: shirred eggs. And apparently, “cocotte” also means prostitute in the dictionary. But we won’t even go there!
To make this, you don’t actually need to go out and buy cocottes. Ordinary ramekins are perfect. But, if you do buy cocottes, make sure to get really small ones, like the 1/4 Qt. Staub cocottes. The cocottes I picked up are a bit larger than 1/4 Qt. and have more surface area at the bottom. So, for this recipe to work out, I had to adjust the ratios, cooking time and oven temperature.
Part of the inspiration for this dish were the black truffles that I also picked up at St. Lawrence Market one day. I was itching to use them and I thought they’d be a perfect addition. But again, you don’t need black truffle to make eggs en cocotte. You can use chanterelle mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms, which I also used for this. Lastly, I wanted more savoury goodness and flavour in the eggs en cocotte, so I used pancetta too. Once you’re done, serve with a couple slices of sourdough bread. Mmmm!
If you have about 25-30 minutes to make your breakfast a little fancier (and more indulgent) one morning, then I highly recommend giving this dish a try. Here is the recipe.
Oeufs en Cocotte (Eggs en Cocotte)
- 4 eggs
- 150 g pancetta chopped into small cubes
- 1 shallot chopped finely
- 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms chopped (you can substitute with chanterelle mushrooms)
- chives chopped finely
- 1/2 cup Swiss Gruyere grated (you can substitute your favourite aged cheddar)
- 6 to 8 tbsp. heavy cream
- kosher or sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- salted or unsalted butter softened
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 black truffle optional for shaving over top
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a skillet or saute pan, brown the pancetta in olive oil over medium-high heat.
- When browned, remove the pancetta from the skillet and place on top of paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
- In the same skillet, add shallots and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms are just cooked all the way through. You might want to remove some of the oil and fat from the pancetta before adding the mushrooms and shallots.
- Return pancetta to the skillet and add 2 tbsp. of heavy cream. Remove skillet from heat and stir mixture together, so the cream reduces and coats the pancetta, mushrooms and shallots.
- Butter the bottom and sides of each cocotte or ramekin. Sprinkle bottom and sides of ramekins with salt and black pepper to season.
- Divide cheese into quarters and add to the bottom of the ramekins.
- Divide the pancetta, mushroom and shallot mixture into quarters and add to the ramekins.
- Carefully crack 1 egg into each ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk. If easier, you can crack each egg into a cup or mug first and then slowly add to each ramekin.
- Add 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. of heavy cream to each ramekin.
- Sprinkle chives on top of each egg. You can also crack a little bit of black pepper and sprinkle a little bit of salt over top.
- Add the 4 ramekins to a larger baking dish and add boiling water to the large baking dish until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, forming a bain marie. Tip: it is better to first put the larger baking dish on your oven rack before adding the ramekins and water to the baking dish, as this will prevent any accidents in transporting the baking dish filled with the ramekins and water.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check the ramekins at about 10-12 minutes, as oven temperatures vary. You want to ensure the egg whites are cooked all the way through, but the egg yolk is still runny. Bake longer for a firmer yolk.
- When finished, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Optional: shave some thin slices of black truffle over the top of each ramekin.