“Shirred” used to be the term used for these dishes, but since I had to look the word up in the dictionary to make sure, I will use “baked” instead. So to “shirr” eggs is to bake them in a buttered dish.
Again, these baked-egg dishes scream out for input and imagination. More important than the actual list of ingredients are the cautions: whether cooked in little ramekins, open gratin dishes, or “en cocotte” (in a little ramekin and usually with cream), remember that the eggs will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven.
So if you take the dishes out of the oven when they are perfectly cooked (jiggling them to see that the yolk is still moving slightly), it is too late. You can cook them in a water bath and then the whites on the edge of the dish will not be as “tough,” as if you had not used one. But given the awkwardness and even danger of lifting a pan with boiling water out of the oven, or pulling out an oven rack that has a pan half full of boiling water on it, I might choose not to.
You will need four ramekins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter four ramekins and place them on a baking sheet.
Mix the remaining butter with the garlic and parsley.
Break an egg into each ramekin, season (generously with the pepper), and divide the garlic-butter mix equally amongst the ramekins. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the whites are set, but the yolk is still soft in its center.
I love eggs baked in a shallow gratin dish with just olive oil and then sprinkled at the end with a mixture of equal proportions of finely chopped garlic and parsley. Baked in cream with cooked artichokes and ham, with mushrooms, or with a puree of fresh cèpes or reconstituted dried ones, they are also wonderful. The ultimate ramekin egg is in cream with fresh white truffles, and in cream with a little very fresh white truffle oil is not too bad either.
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