There are always eggs in the fridge, but I often fail to notice them when I open it, hungry. 12 orbs of long-lasting, inexpensive protein just sitting there, and yet it rarely occurs to me that I should be making dinner out of them. It's not that they go sour; the eggs always get used eventually, when my girlfriend bakes or we scramble them on an especially roomy weekday morning. But my egg recipe repertoire is pretty lacking.
Browsing around the sleek new Gourmet website, I came across this recipe for eggs baked in cream with spinach and ham; a little further research revealed that this recipe is a riff on Eggs in Cocotte, a French preparation named for the dish it's baked in. In search of my own little receptacle to hold it, I was astonished to discover that, in fact, I own one cocotte dish—it says so on the bottom. I happily prepared it with the knowledge of my accidental authenticity. The ham, simmered beforehand in the cream, perfumes the whole dish, while the spinach gives a mineral taste and texture. And all that cream—how can you go wrong? This requires some good buttered toast to spoon the mixture onto, and with a little green salad alongside, dinner is looking pretty good.
I found the quantities in the original recipe to be off—not nearly enough ham or cream to fill even a tiny dish—so they're adjusted here. I also used a shallot instead of the chopped onion, and used a bit less garlic to compensate.
- 1 cup thinly sliced country ham, finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream, or half-and-half
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 10 oz spinach, stems discarded
- 8 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle.
Bring ham and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat (not a boil), then remove and let steep for about ten minutes, uncovered.
Bake in a shallow baking pan, rotating the pan halfway through, until the whites are cooked but the yolks remain runny. Remove each as it finishes cooking, as times may vary, but it should take 15-20 minutes.
Serve with buttered toasts.