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Oeufs en Cocotte à la Crème
From Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen, by Matt McAllester
[after a recipe from French Provincial Cooking, by Elizabeth David]

The egg dish is not light. There are three ingredients: eggs, butter, and cream. The butter melts in each pot, the eggs follow, and when they begin to harden, the cream goes on top. Elizabeth David writes: "This is one of the most delicious egg dishes ever invented, but it is rare to get it properly done."

You need ramekins for this. Or the little cauldronlike ceramic dishes that are also great for small, individualized desserts like petits pots de crème.

Heat the oven or boil some water in a wide pan. Put a little butter inside each ramekin and then place the ramekins into the shallow water or into the oven so that the butter melts. Crack an egg into each ramekin and then cover. When the eggs are nearly done – it only takes two or three minutes – pour some double cream on top of each one. Take them out soon after and be generous with the salt and pepper before tucking in. Toast is good to have nearby.

If you really love someone, bring them this in bed on a Saturday morning. On a tray with freshly squeezed orange juice, a thick slice of toast, and a bowl of café au lait.

[Elizabeth David suggests adding 1 tablespoon of thick cream, after cooking the egg for 3 to 4 minutes, and covering the dish again to "finish cooking." The yolks should be quite soft and the whites well set. She says cooking oeufs en cocotte on the stovetop is easier than doing so in the oven. Whether the eggs are at room temperature or cold has a great impact on the cooking time.]

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