Monday, December 4, 2017

E is for: Eggs en Cocotte with Crab

Hopefully most of my readers know by now that I'm the new floor reporter for Food Network's reboot of the Iron Chef franchise (it's called Iron Chef Showdown, and it airs on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET/PT, so if you don't already... PLEASE watch.)

Anyways, what many of you DON'T know, is how I got the job.

I'll save you what my friends call one of my "yarns" (long stories that tend to drone on endlessly), and just tell you that it included a live audition at the Food Network studios in NYC. Actual chefs competed with a "secret ingredient," and I had to interview them throughout the process.

The ingredient that day was eggs, and one of the chefs made something called "Eggs en Cocotte." To be completely honest, I had never really heard of it before, though in retrospect I had definitely eaten them previously without knowing the fancy name.

Basically "en cocotte" is a French term that refers to the way the eggs are cooked. (In small vessels or ramekins.) It's a very elegant way of serving eggs, and I thought it would be fun to share with you here on the blog.



The cool thing about this dish is it's really just a method of preparing eggs, so much like an omelette, you can use whichever ingredients you want! The chef during my audition used mushrooms and chard and lots of heavy cream. I decided to go the seafood route, and do sort of a take on a crab cake, with my egg nestled in the center.


I decided to get fresh crab, which as you can imagine is a little pricey. (Who eats fresh crab for breakfast on a random Tuesday? Apparently we do. We fancy.) That said, because we are essentially making these into a crab cake, you can skip the lump crab and grab some backfin, which will save you a few bucks. This is about 8 ounces. Because my "ramekins" were actually soufflé dishes (aka they're quite large), I made only two portions. However, if you had smaller, more medium-sized ramekins, you could definitely make this into portions for 4 people, especially if you served with some bread and a little side salad. (Shout as always to Justin for the photos. Luckily he accepts fancy crab breakfasts as payment.)


My "dressing" for the crab contained a lot of familiar crab cake ingredients and flavors (mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon, Worcesterhire sauce, bread crumbs and Tabasco.)


I also wanted to add a fresh herb component, so I used some of the parsley I had leftover from Thanksgiving. I also think chives would be nice here or maybe even some dill. Gently fold the crab and herbs into the dressing.


Evenly divide your crab mixture into your ramekins (either 2 or 4, however many you are using.) With the spoon, sort of make a little "well" in the middle of each one. This will help keep your egg centered in the dish.


From here, crack an egg into the little indentation you made. See? Perfectly nestled inside that little crab cocoon.


Traditional eggs en cocotte would call for a little heavy cream drizzled on top. I had some crème fraîche leftover from Thanksgiving (one of my secret ingredients in my garlic mashed potatoes), so I used that instead, but you can use whichever you prefer (it will taste roughly the same, the crème fraîche being a little more tangy, and will also liquify in the oven so it will also look similar too.)


Place the ramekins inside a large baking dish, and fill about 3/4 of the way up with boiling water. Place in the oven at 350 degrees. As for how long... this is sort of a crap shoot. The dish is "done" when the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. Most recipes I found online said 15 minutes. Mine took closer to 30 minutes. I'm assuming this is because I used the larger  ramekins? So the moral of the story... start checking on them after about 15 minutes, but budget 30 minutes just in case.


I wanted to add a crunchy component to the top of the eggs, so I decided to toast up some panko breadcrumbs (leftover from my fried mac 'n cheese balls I made for Thanksgiving... more on that in the NEXT post!) I just toasted them with a little olive oil, and then mixed in some Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.


Top with the breadcrumbs, more herbs and serve alongside some toasted bread and a simple salad.


They would be great if cooking for a small group of people because everyone's breakfast is basically self contained to their individual dish and they can all cook in the oven at the same time.


Or you can make them on a random Tuesday.


Because... you fancy.

Eggs en Cocotte with Crab

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake steam breakfast egg crab

Ingredients (2-4 dishes)
  • 8 ounces fresh crab (backfin is ok for this recipe)
  • 2-4 ramekins (depending on how many you are making)
  • unsalted butter (for greasing ramekins)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (such as parsley or chives), divided use
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, divided use
  • 2-4 eggs (depending on how many servings you are making)
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche OR heavy cream
  • boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • toasted bread and side salad, for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pick through crab and remove any shells; set aside. Grease ramekins with butter on all sides. (2-4 ramekins, depending on how many you are making.) Lightly salt the bottom of each ramekin.
  3. Whisk together the mayo, 2 teaspoons of the Dijon, Tabasco, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the panko bread crumbs. Gently fold in the crab and 1 tablespoon of the fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  4. Divide crab mixture evenly into each ramekin, creating an even layer (Again, 2 to 4, depending on how many you are making.) Using the back of a spoon, create a small "well" in the center of each dish of crab.
  5. Gently crack or slide an egg into the center of each ramekin, where the indentation is. Spoon crème fraîche or drizzle heavy cream over the top (evenly dividing between the dishes.)
  6. Place ramekins inside a baking dish and place in the oven. (You may also want to place the dish on a sheet pan to catch any spills.) Carefully pour enough boiling water into the baking dish so that the ramekins are submerged 3/4 of the way.
  7. Bake until the egg whites are just set, but the yolks still jiggle when you move the dish. This process will take anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the ramekins.
  8. While eggs are cooking, make the breadcrumbs. Heat two teaspoons olive oil over medium heat, and stir in the remainder of the bread crumbs (1/4 cup.) Stir until toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the remainder of Dijon (1 teaspoon.) Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. When eggs are done cooking, CAREFULLY remove the dish from the oven. Using a thin spatula and oven mits and/or tongs, carefully remove ramekins from the water and set on a kitchen towel to dry the bottoms of the ramekins. Transfer to plates, top with toasted bread crumbs, remaining herbs and serve with toasted bread and greens.
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