Baked shirred eggs

MAKES: 1 or 2 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

This is one of the best ways to cook eggs for a crowd, and there’s something about the texture of baked eggs that cannot be duplicated by any other method. Before baking, you can top baked eggs with bread crumbs, grated cheese, minced fresh herbs, or a sprinkle of your favorite spice blend alone or in combination.

You can put all sorts of raw or cooked vegetables, grains, or legumes into the cup before adding the egg, which makes this an easy way to use up leftovers. Try chopped tomatoes, scallions, or herbs; rice pilaf or fried rice; Caramelized Onions; or cooked mushrooms or greens. You may need to cook the eggs a couple minutes more, depending on the addition.

Butter or oil, as needed

About 1 tablespoon cream (optional)

2 eggs Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375В°F. Smear a bit of butter or oil in 2 custard cups or small ramekins. If you like, put a couple teaspoons of cream in the bottom of each (a nice touch). Break 1 egg into each of the cups, then put the cups on a baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the eggs are just set and the whites solidified. Because of the heat retained by the cups, these will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven, so it’s best to undercook them slightly (the precise time, in a good oven on a middle rack, is 12 minutes). Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you like and serve.

Variations

Oven-Poached Eggs. A little more work that results in ultra-tender eggs: Instead of putting the custard cups or ramekins on a baking sheet, put them in a deep ovenproof pan. Fill the pan with about an inch of boiling water and cover with foil. Carefully put the pan in the preheated oven and bake to desired doneness, between 15 and 30 minutes.