Baked Eggs with Artichokes

Oeufs aux Artichauts

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Servings:

    4

Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

This is a common dish in the southwest of France and, in Italy, the identical preparation is known as a Florentine specialty. It is, essentially, an omelet that, because it is started out in a cold dish, sticks. Its uniqueness depends on a juxtaposition of flavors and textures—the crispness and nutty taste of the golden fried artichokes baked into the mass of creamy, barely set eggs—that can be obtained in no other way.

The size of the dish is important to the success of this preparation: it should only just contain the fried artichoke quarters, scattered closely over the bottom, the beaten eggs achieving a depth that easily covers them.

Ingredients

  • 8 or 10 small, tender artichokes
  • About 1 cup olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Method

Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, cut off the top third of the remaining leaves, and pare any remaining tough edges. Split into quarters (or eighths, depending on the size of the artichokes), remove chokes, if necessary, and add to a bowl containing about ½ cup olive oil, turning to coat them completely in the oil, thus protecting them from blackening on contact with the air. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and fry the artichoke sections, turning them regularly in the oil with the tines of a fork, until tender and golden, the leaf tips crisp and richly browned. Drain on absorbent paper, sprinkle on all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper, and arrange them in the bottom of a liberally buttered gratin dish (any low-sided, non-metallic oven dish). Beat the eggs lightly with about 1 tablespoon of cold hard butter, cut into tiny pieces, add salt and pepper, pour over the artichokes, and bake in a moderately hot oven (400°) for about 8 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on the eggs—they should be removed from the oven before the center of the dish is set. The exact cooking time depends on the size of the dish and the depth of the eggs. Overcooked, all of the delicacy is lost.