When we were down in Yountville, we had an incredibly delicious coddled egg dish at Thomas Keller’s French bistro, Bouchon. The egg was was coddled on top of a potato puree with roasted mushrooms and sautéed spinach. There was buttered brioche for dipping. It was literally the best egg dish I’ve had in a long time.
Simply put, coddled eggs are eggs that are baked or steamed until the whites are just set and the yolks are gloriously runny. Buttered toast is absolutely necessary for dipping into the runny yolks. Coddled eggs are a great breakfast or brunch item: they’re customizable, they’re mostly hands off and they’re intensely satisfying.
Feel free to experiment with this recipe. I left out the mushrooms just because I didn’t have any, but they totally added an extra dimension of umami in Keller’s version. If you don’t like mushrooms or you’re in the mood for meat, I think a soft pulled pork layer would be just the thing. Not a spinach fan? Leave it out or substitute another leafy vegetable. Also, I kept it simple with the seasoning, but fresh herbs would be a welcome addition. The only thing I wouldn’t switch out are the mashed potatoes. I never thought of pairing mashed potatoes and eggs, but in this dish they really work.
You can prepare most of this recipe the night before: the potatoes and spinach can be put into the ramekins, covered and chilled. The next day, bring the ramekins up to room temperature before topping with an egg and baking. While the eggs are baking, do a little coffee-making and toast-buttering and you’ll soon be sitting down to a delicious, fancified version of soldiers and toast.
Coddled Egg Recipe
- 2 eggs
1/2 cup of your favourite smooth mashed potatoes
1 cup of spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a small pan over medium heat, sauté the spinach in a touch of olive oil until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the pan.
Divide the potatoes between two ramekins or small jars. Top the potatoes with spinach and one egg each. Season the egg with salt and pepper. Place the ramekins or jars into a deep roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up halfway up the sides of the ramekins or jars.
Carefully put the tray on the centre rack. Bake until the whites are gently set and the yolks are still runny, about 17-20 minutes. Carefully remove ramekins or jars from the roasting pan and serve with plenty of buttered toast.