Oeufs en cocotte, or eggs in a cocoon, is a quintessential French dish that sounds really intimidating to make, but it’s actually not.
For this version, I made a shallot and leek base, sautéd some spinach to put on top, and then cracked an egg over each ramekin and topped that with some heavy cream. Yes; it’s a lot going on in one little ramekin. But it all comes together quickly and pretty seamlessly, making it the perfect thing to serve for brunch or even a quick weeknight dinner.
The other thing about this dish that might intimidate some people is the water bath. Not many American recipes call for baking things in the oven with a layer of hot water around them, so it sounds scary and wrong. But the reality is, it’s easy and it creates an egg dish with a velvety texture. I like to pre-load my ramekins into a large baking dish, heat up some water in an electric kettle, then carefully pour it in, making sure not to get any in the ramekins themselves. Too much water in the eggs/cream equals a soppy mess.
The other piece of advice I’d give you about this recipe is, commit to the crack. It’s scary to crack individual eggs into ramekins. I’m not sure why, but it is. I guess the margin for error is higher, but the good news is, you probably won’t screw up badly enough to ruin it. You crack the egg in first before you pour cream on top, so if you have an egg crack issue, you can just scoop it out and try again with another egg. However, a little confidence goes a long way. Trust me.
Here’s a song to get you started on your oeufs en cocotte journey.
Oeufs en cocotte
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 small leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
5 oz baby spinach
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and pepper
3 oz smoked salmon, minced
4 large eggs (or 8 if you use bigger ramekins)
6 Tbsp heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or grease four 8-oz ramekins or eight 4-oz ramekins, and set them aside.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and shallot and cook on low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the wine and cook the mixture into the liquid is absorbed. Set the pan aside.
In another pan, melt another tablespoon of butter over medium heat and add the spinach and cumin. Season with some healthy pinches of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted. Let the mixture cool and then squeeze the extra liquid out with your fingers. I like to wrap mine in a clean kitchen towel, wind it up, and squeeze. Finely chop the spinach mixture and set it aside.
Add some leek mixture to each ramekin, followed by some spinach, and then break one egg inside each one. Pour the cream around the egg yolk, trying hard not to cover to yolk. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Transfer the ramekins to a baking dish and pour hot water in so it comes halfway up the side of each ramekin. Try not to get any water in each ramekin. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the egg white is set and the yolk is runny. Serve with bread. Enjoy!