No doubt that many of you reading this entry will be very disappointed with the content. It’s all about cocottes. Evidently, the French word cocotte has two meanings. There’s the culinary definition – an individual serving sized dish of baked eggs and cream. And then there’s the other meaning referring to – well, you know – ladies of the evening.
So, if you’ve landed here via a Google search with hopes of photos and info on the red light district cocottes, sorry, this post is all about eggs. But if you’re here for the edible cocotte (I’ll restrain myself and not make an off-color joke here) then boy-oh-boy, do I have a dish for you.
The nuts and bolts of this dish are simple (and delicious): eggs, heavy cream, bacon, sautéed potatoes and butter. How can you go wrong, right? You can’t.
The other unique element of this dish is the presentation. It has the beauty of a sunny side up egg (bright, intense yellow yolk center) but with the ease of making a frittata – just mix and pop it in the oven. Again, how can you go wrong?
I was indirectly inspired to make this dish. Walking through a local home store, I found these cool tiny 6-ounce ramekins that were designed to look like a full sized Le Creuset enameled Dutch ovens. I saw them. I was intrigued. Resistance was futile. I bought them. (Did I mention that they were only $2.50 each?)
It wasn’t until I got home that I thought, “Sure they were cheap but what can I use them for?” Individual Mac & Cheeses? That could work. Or maybe soup dishes? Too awkward and forced.
At some point I thought of cocottes. I also remembered this Gourmet magazine recipe that I bookmarked a while back. At this point I should mention that the original Gourmet recipe has almost no resemblance to the recipe that I ended up making. It has been tweaked (ingredients & technique) almost beyond recognition. Not because I possess any advanced skills at culinary improvisation. I just didn’t want to go to the market and buy the ingredients. I used what I had on hand. As I have mentioned before on this site, I can be quite lazy.
More important than the presentation is the flavor. It’s delicious, filling and satisfying. The sautéed potatoes and leeks. The bacon. The lightly cook egg with the rich runny yolk. The cream.
I think this would make a great brunch dish. Or better yet, make them, serve them on a tray with the Sunday paper, orange marmalade buttered toast, a glass of OJ and/or coffee and it becomes the perfect breakfast-in-bed treat for your main squeeze.
NOTE: If you’re making this dish for a group. I would suggest that you cook the bacon and potatoes-leek mixture ahead of time (even the day before). And a bit before you’re ready to serve, assemble the ramekin components and pop them in the oven.
NOTE 2: The eggs in this recipe will not be fully cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.
NOTE 3: I recommend that you use a nonstick pan for sautéing the potatoes. I didn’t. A good deal of my potatoes burned and stuck to the pan. Using a nonstick pan also allows you to use less of the rendered bacon fat when cooking the potatoes. Which is good since it’s a bacon, heavy cream and yolk dish.
EGGS EN COCOTTE BAKED WITH CREAM & BACON
¾ cup slab bacon cut into lardons (1/4” wide batons)
2/3 cup potato, ½” diced cubes
1/3 cup leeks, diced
dash of dried thyme
2 large eggs
3 TBL heavy cream
1 TBL butter
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Chives, diced (for garnish)
Equipment: 2 (6-ounce) ramekins
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
In a medium sized nonstick sauté pan, cook bacon lardons over moderate heat until it they are crisped and cooked through.
Let bacon drain on a paper towel.
Meanwhile pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat. To the sauté pan, add potatoes, leeks and thyme and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Divide and layer the potato/leek mixture among the two ramekins. Add a layer of bacon lardons to each serving (reserving a few of the lardons to garnish the cooked dish). Spoon 1 tablespoon of heavy cream into each serving. Crack an egg into each ramekin and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon (2 teaspoons, if you dare) of cream over each egg. Cut the tablespoon of butter into 4-6 small pieces and dot the top of each ramekin with butter.
Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.