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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shirred Eggs with Truffle and Thyme

I'm genuinely surprised shirred eggs are not more common.

For those who are like "what the eff are 'shirred eggs'?", basically they're just baked eggs.

But, given that they are actually quite easy to make, and often can be an instrument for a variety of complex and delicate flavour pairings, I do wonder why we don't see more of them out in the world.

You can bake eggs in many different forms, but when you bake them individually, with the yolk still intact, they are generally called 'shirred'.  Although the name originates from the type of dish within which they used to bake these eggs, shirred eggs do not necessarily need to be baked in a 'shirrer'.

In fact, ramekins are common.  Plus they're great because you can serve them right in the baking dish.

And even though I have used ramekins for this in the past, I admit I more often prefer to prepare shirred eggs in a muffin tin.

Yup.  A muffin tin.

As long as you lightly grease the individual cups, this is actually a delightful way of shirring eggs.

And now I will show you my favourite version.

First, grease that muffin tin.  Any oil works, but I like to use vegan margarine (vegan only because we don't stock any other kind of margarine).

For today, however, I chose to use some truffle oil.  :)

Next, grate a small amount of cheese into each cup.

Emmental is a classic for this (and is delicious), but I also like parmigiano reggiano... it's a little drier and nuttier, which is great for a more savoury shirred egg.

I also like to grind a generous bit of black pepper in there too (or some of whatever fresh herb you're using as well...)

Then just carefully place one egg into each cup.

I like to crack my eggs into a small pinch bowl beforehand, just to make things a little easier.  Easier how, you ask?  Well, sometimes you might get a bit of shell in the mix, and it's easier to scoop out when not sitting on top of a bunch of other things, but also it is MUCH easier to pour an egg into a cup (or boiling water, for poached) as opposed to cracking and dumping directly from the shell.

Incidentally, if you've ever wanted a super easy method for removing a troublesome bit of eggshell, and have become infuriated at your fingers' attempts which really just end up pushing it around... try using the recently cracked, empty half of egg shell instead.  It's a natural, and easy-to-use, scoop.  :)

I like to place the muffin tin on top of a rimmed baking sheet filled (or somewhat filled) with some water.

This sort of makes a mock bain-marie and ensures a more uniform baking, but it also makes it just a wee bit less dry in there... Plus it's easier to take out an entire tray, rather than a wobbly muffin tin.

Anyway, that's it for the most part.  You can add more herbs or seasonings at this point, or later if you prefer.

What I like to do personally is to add the herbs before baking, and the salt, after baking.

In this instance, I was using some fresh thyme.

Nobody wants to bite into a delightfully velvety egg only to be hit with a large, crunchy thyme leaf (or stem!) so some care is required to de-stem and finely chop this thyme.

But, a little bit of effort can pay large dividends, and this stuff is delicious after all.

Throw just a splash more black pepper on top, and then it's ready to go in the oven!

I like to bake at 350° only, but you'd probably be ok at 375° if you were in a hurry.  Just keep an eye on it.  They're ready once the whites have set and the yolk is firm, but not dry.


The trickiest part is getting them out.  Hopefully you greased them well, and a silicon spatula can just shimmy them on out with relative ease.


If you baked them too long, or didn't grease them enough, you might need to use a butter knife run along the edges... But if that's the case, your shirred eggs are already a little disappointed in you anyway, so who cares.

Today, these guys came out really easily, and I served them on some yorkshire pudding and oven-roasted potatoes.

Yes, I baked a quick batch of yorkshire pudding just for these shirred eggs.  :)

True wintry comfort food at its best!

It can be tricky to make sure the whites are fully cooked, but that the yolks are still nice and runny.  But when you pull it off, it's a delightful texture extravaganza.  Fluffy but warm and gooey at the same time.  

And baked (shirred) this way, I find eggs to be a wonderful mix of both rich and savoury but also kind of light and easy at the same time.