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Oct 23, 2007 03:37 PM

Need troubleshooting help with eggs en cocotte

On a recent Food Network broadcast of Easy Entertaining, host Michael Chiarello prepared brunch for friends, serving eggs en cocotte. This morning, I decided to prepare the dish for my breakfast. The recipe calls for buttering a ramekin, sprinkling the bottom and sides with salt and pepper (I swapped grated parmesan for the salt), then sliding in two eggs, seasoning the top, and baking in a water bath, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

The latest Food Network Star, Amy Findley, also has a recipe on the FN website for eggs en cocotte. She recommends spooning a tablespoon of cream on top of the eggs before baking, and baking them on the bottom rack of the oven, covered with aluminum foil, so I followed those suggestions, too.

The objective: to have the whites set, but yolks still pleasantly runny. I was very disappointed to find my egg yolks overdone, and the whites inedibly raw in the middle.

But I really love the concept. Any suggestions for how to do this better? Michael used 1/2 cup ramekins, and so did I, while Amy calls for 1 cup ramekins, which seem inappropriately large for the amount of egg, but perhaps that would have made the difference. Other ideas? Should I just stick to frying or poaching? Thanks in advance!

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  1. gosh it is literally 35 years since I made these and I never had this problem. I don't ever remember using a water bath nor covering with foil., go for a hotter oven maybe 400 for about 10 mins. I did use cream also but added mine at the start.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      Thanks, smartie, I'll try again without the water bath and foil, and kick up the temperature.

    2. Hi WendyBinCT-
      I made a whole mess of these for a brunch earlier this year, and they worked great. Here's what I did...
      Coat the inside of a ramekin with melted butter. Lay a few leaves of baby spinach inside the bottom of the ramekin, then follow with a thin slice of good tomato. If you like bacon, put a few crumbles of bacon in there too (or ham, etc), and cheese, if using. Crack an egg into the ramekin, season with salt and pepper, as well as chopped herbs of your choice. Put the ramekins in a preheated 375 oven, in a waterbath pan containing *boiling* water. Mine took 12 minutes and came out perfectly.

      Is it possible that your oven isn't running true to temp?

      2 Replies
      1. re: litchick

        Hi, litchick, thanks for all your excellent ideas. Your brunch guests must have been happy campers! Spinach, tomato, bacon, cheese, herbs, egg... my mouth is watering! I did have the water boiling before I put the eggs in the oven. Do you just put one egg in each ramekin? That would reduce the volume, same as Amy Findley's advice to use a 1 cup ramekin for two eggs.

        1. re: WendyBinCT

          Hi WendyBinCT: yup, just one egg per ramekin. I think this is why they set well in my case. I found that with the additional goodies in the bottom of the ramekin that one egg was plenty, and I just made sure to make a few extras for those folks who wanted more. The best part is that I could make them right in advance of the guests' arrival -- they don't need to be served piping hot.

      2. I had the exact same problem!!! Well the whites weren't completely raw, but definitely not acceptable by most healthy people's standards. Three times in a row. I tried with cream, without... I don't get it. Ina Garten uses the broiler, which I am going to try next time.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alex8alot

          Same here, alex8alot (love your moniker!) -- the egg white on the perimeter was fine, but the center was ghastly-wiggly. I ate what I could, then threw the rest in my microwave to firm up! Ha! Nuked egg was definitely not what I had been aiming for! Broiler, eh? Guess I have several more egg experiments ahead!

          1. re: alex8alot

            The broiler is also a great choice, especially if you put a little cheese on top of the egg rather than underneath it. I've used this method too, and it's turned out well. In my case, I started them in the oven with the water bath, and finished them (not in the bath) quickly under the broiler. You have to keen an eye on them so they don't overcook, but it's a good way to get the consistency you want for the whites.

          2. Fired up with inspiration, I attempted Round 2 for lunch. Two buttered ramekins, with pepper, grated parmesan and crumbled bacon in the bottom, one egg per, more pepper and a tablespoon of cream drizzled over each one. (Not exactly low-fat or low-cal...) Fifteen minutes in a water bath, no foil, at 375, then 1 minute under the broiler. They turned out overdone -- I'll bake for 12 minutes next time -- but very, very tasty. Thanks to everyone for helpful advice! Now I'm confident I can get this right. Chowhound rocks!

            1. Hi WendyBinCT: I don't know if you're still reading this thread (perhaps not), but Mark Bittman just did eggs en cocotte (aka baked eggs, aka shirred eggs) in the NYT this week:


              Approx 12 min at 375. There you go!


              1 Reply
              1. re: litchick

                Thanks so much, litchick, I subscribe to the Times, so I saw this, too. Isn't Mark marvelous? If I weren't already happily married... ;^) I see he dispenses with the water bath. Will try that next time! Happy New Year!