Like many people, most of my early culinary training came from cooking shows on PBS. Of all the culinary wonders I’d witness for three hours every Sunday afternoon, I don’t think there was any more impressive than watching Jacques Pepin make eggs. It sounds absurd, but there is tremendous honor in being a chef that can profess total mastery over the incredible, edible egg. Legend has it that there are as many ways to cook eggs as there are folds on a chef’s toque. Google “Jacques Pepin eggs” and prepare to have your mind blown. This is a figurative rock star who will get up on a food festival stage after a dozen young hot chefs have demoed the most impressive stuff in their arsenal, make an omelet, and immediately people are throwing their underpants at the stage.
Knowing this, you would surmise that the favorite preparation of the Michael Jordan of Ovum should be our favorite as well. Fortunately, his choice might be the easiest in the entire egg playbook: oeufs en cocotte—translation: eggs that are gently steamed in small ramekins. Any schmuck can pull this off, and today, you are that schmuck. You can make this and be so impressed with yourself that you jump on Zazzle and make yourself an EGGMASTER shirt so that you, too, can have strangers lobbing their filthy underwear at your head.
There are recipes out there for how to make these fancy-ass oeufs with highly precise measurements like “¾ teaspoon finely minced chives,” but all of this is totally unnecessary. If you want to roll like a legit Master of Eggs, you use what you got and dance to your own beat. Relax, follow these instructions, and feel your soul transcend onto a different level of egg consciousness.
Stuff you can sauté, like shallots and vegetables—if you like it in your omelet, you can make it work here
Maybe some cheese—that sounds pretty good
Heavy cream, if you want to be really French
That fancy salt you bought because it looked pretty but you have no idea what to do with it
Freshly cracked pepper
Crusty bread or toasted English muffin
Ramekins, custard cups, or if you have none of those very special cooking things, mugs
A pot that can comfortably fit all your ramekins/custard cups/mugs—a large skillet works best, if you own one
A lid, or a cookie sheet you can use to cover the pan
Sauté anything you want to eat with your eggs. Jacques does shallots, wild mushrooms and herbs with a touch of heavy cream and splash of cognac, because it really never is too early for that. Divide that up between the cups.
Put the cups in the large skillet and pour in enough water so that it comes ⅔ of the way up the sides of each cup. Take them out of the water, cover the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn heat to low.
Put an egg or two into each cup, then put them back into the pot, leaving a bit of room between them. Cover the pot and allow the eggs to steam until they’re done to your liking. I’m a 5-minute runny egg kinda gal.
Serve alongside some crusty bread.