For Sunday morning breakfast I made baked eggs, also known as “shirred” eggs, a dish traditionally reserved in my family for one occasion and one occasion only: Christmas morning.
Preparing the eggs down here in Virginia felt odd as I’ve never made them outside of my mother’s Connecticut kitchen, and eating them felt odd, too, because instantly it felt like Christmas morning, and I thus expected to see my sister sitting across from me harmonizing with the Messiah and my brother a few seats down strumming along on his guitar.
Alas, neither of these characters was present and having not inherited a single musical gene, Ben and I tucked into our herb-and-gruyère-topped baked eggs in silence, spooning the perfectly runny yolks over toasted bread, enjoying an unprecedented Christmas morning dress rehearsal.
Baked or Shirred Eggs
Tradition aside, I have no good reason to make baked eggs only once a year. They couldn’t be simpler to assemble, they’re great for a small-ish crowd, and they are far from indulgent. My mother has been making this New York Times Magazine recipe since 1985! Here’s how you make them:
- Crack 8 eggs into 8 ramekins. (Scale up or down as needed.) These 4-oz ramekins are great for baked eggs.
- Season eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Pour 2 teaspoons cream, 1 teaspoon (about) herbs and a few dashes of Tabasco over each egg. Sprinkle with about one tablespoon of Gruyère (or other) cheese.
- Bake in a water bath for 9-14 minutes or until whites are set but yolks are still runny.
- Serve with toast: My Mother’s Peasant Bread or Easy Sourdough Bread are good options.
The combination of herbs — parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme — with Gruyère and soft-cooked eggs along with a few splashes of Tabasco, while certainly festive, is too good to save for one and only one morning a year. Besides, it’s not truly the holidays until all of the usual suspects — baked eggs or not — are present.
More Egg Recipes to Try
- Instant Pot Soft-Boiled Eggs
- Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Oil and Vinegar Toasts + Soft-Boiled Eggs
- Perfect Poached Eggs
- Avocado-Egg Salad on Toasted Sourdough
Source: The New York Times Magazine, October 27th, 1985 (My mother truly has been making this since 1985!)
- Use the quantities of herbs as a guide — I never measure anymore.
- Prepare for some trial and error: getting the desired doneness of the eggs may take some practice. Once, for instance, two of the eggs were perfectly cooked — yolk runny but not too runny; whites nicely set — and two of the eggs were overcooked. I discovered afterwards that the overcooked eggs were in ramekins that were a little bit thinner than the ramekins holding the perfectly cooked eggs. So, the thickness of the ramekin makes a difference as does the temperature of the oven (every oven is different) as does the height of the water in the water bath as does the number of ramekins you have in your baking dish. I advise you start checking for doneness after 9 minutes. Just press the top gently with your finger. Keep in mind, too, that they continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, loosely packed
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme, loosely packed
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary, loosely packed
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage, loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
- 8 eggs
- 8 tablespoons grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bring a tea pot filled with water to a boil. Combine herbs in a small bowl. Butter eight 4-oz ramekins. Crack one egg into each ramekin.
- Season eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Pour 2 teaspoons cream, 1 teaspoon (about) herbs and a few dashes of Tabasco over each egg. Sprinkle with about one tablespoon of cheese.
- Place ramekins in a baking dish large enough to ensure they do not touch each other. Pour boiling water into dish so that it reaches one-third of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 9 to 14 minutes depending on variables noted above for medium cooked eggs.
- Category: Eggs, Breakfast
- Method: Baked, Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: baked, shirred, eggs, herbs, Gruyère, cheese