Like kale and quinoa, kimchi and anything charred, the egg is having its moment. The hashtag #putaneggonit turns up close to 60000 times on Instagram. Put an egg on a salad of bitter greens, some hash, Brussels sprouts, toast, rice, Ramen or a ragout, and that dish’s appeal goes up. Way up.
Eggs have a knack for making just about anything look farm-to-table: a runny yolk is a short cut to rusticity and charm.
But the egg can also be refined and ready to take its place next to a flute of champagne, which is where these coddled eggs were when we celebrated New Year’s in Paris.
When I make these coddled eggs in Paris, I spring for extra-fresh eggs; when I make them in America, I buy organic eggs.
What makes coddled eggs so luscious – and as right for breakfast as for the start of a fancy-pants dinner – is their consistency: the whites are just set, and the yolks run the instant the tip of a spoon touches them.
That they welcome other ingredients and flavours just adds to their allure.
Dorie Greenspan’s Earthy Coddled Eggs
You’ll need a steamer basket and individual 120ml or 180ml ramekins or glass canning jars.
If you plan to double or triple this recipe, use a larger vehicle for steaming.
MAKE AHEAD: You can assemble the eggs (including the cream) and keep them covered overnight in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before cooking.
Fine sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter,
plus more for the ramekins
2 tablespoons minced mixed
110g cleaned, stemmed and
trimmed mushrooms, mixed
or all one kind
freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons white balsamic
vinegar or dry white wine
4 large organic eggs, at room
4 teaspoons heavy cream
toast points or batons
(“soldiers”), lightly buttered, for serving
Set up a steamer.
If you have a Chinese bamboo steamer, that’s great; you can even use a pasta pot that has a pasta-strainer insert.
Ideally, you want a steamer with a flat bottom, so that you can rest 4 cups on it. If you don’t have a steamer, you can set a cooling rack in a deep skillet with a lid.
Fill the steamer pot with salted water (leave space between the water and the steaming rack) and heat so the water is barely moving.
Use some butter to grease the insides of 4 soufflé, ramekin, custard or other heatproof cups.
The ideal size is 120ml , but cups between 120ml and 180ml will be fine.
Lightly sprinkle the inside of the cups with some of the minced herbs.
Coarsely chop the mushrooms, making them the right size to eat from a teaspoon.
Melt the tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
Once its bubbling has slowed, add the mushrooms.
Season lightly with salt and pepper; cook until the mushrooms are almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar or wine and cook until it evaporates.
Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and stir in some of the remaining herbs.
You want to reserve a few pinches of herbs to top the eggs when they’re cooked.
Divide the mushrooms among the cups. (If you’d like, you can hold back a few mushrooms to top the eggs.)
Carefully break 1 egg into each cup, taking care to keep the yolk intact.
Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spoon 1 teaspoon of cream over each egg. (Try to leave the yolk exposed, but it’s not necessary. At this point, the cups can be covered and refrigerated up to overnight.)
Place the eggs in the steamer, cover and cook for five to seven minutes.
You want the whites to set and the yolks to remain runny.
Carefully remove the cups from the steamer; top each egg with herbs and mushrooms, if you’ve saved some.
Wipe the bottoms of the cups dry, place them on saucers and serve right away with the toast points or batons.
* Greenspan is the award-winning author of 12 cookbooks