Oeuf Cocotte Recipe

Oeuf Cocotte

When I was 9 years old, I was in the last year of primary school while my sister was in junior high. On Wednesdays, I didn’t have class, but she did, and my parents considered us old enough to be home without a nanny, so I would make my own lunch. Maybe my memory fails me, but I seem to remember that this involved a lot of canned beef ravioli, warmed up in a saucepan. From time to time, scorched ravioli in a saucepan, the reward for getting a bit too engrossed in some paper-cutting activity or other.

It’s around that time that my parents got our first microwave oven, for which I had an odd fascination. I remember very clearly the amazement when we brought the first glass of water to a boil, the solemn warning about not running it empty and not putting anything with metal in it, the panicky fright when I accidentally did (maybe a can of ravioli?) and the mini-fireworks that ensued.

I remember that this microwave oven came with a little recipe booklet. I knew nothing about cooking back then, but I read this little booklet carefully, and spotted the one thing that seemed doable: a recipe for Oeuf Cocotte. And that’s how oeuf cocotte went into the Wednesday lunch rotation, keeping the beef ravioli company.

Oeuf cocotte is made by cooking an egg in a little ramequin, on top of other ingredients – usually ham and crème fraîche, with an optional topping of grated cheese. “Cocotte” is a cute word for a hen, and is also an old-fashioned endearing – or condescending, depending on the tone – term for a girl. So I guess “Oeuf Cocotte” could be accurately translated as “Chick Egg”.

And this was, in effect, the very first recipe I ever followed, the very first dish I ever prepared from scratch and unsupervised. Of course, eggs cooked in the microwave are impossibly rubbery, and sometimes they even imploded if left to cook for too long. But the pride of eating something I had prepared myself more than made up for it.

And then I grew up, I moved on to other gastronomic pursuits, and somehow the oeuf cocotte was left by the wayside. Until last week, that is, when I bought a package of Boursin — a soft garlic and herb cheese — the lid of which offered a simple recipe for oeuf cocotte, baked in the oven. And that’s what we had for dinner the other day, to deliciously simple and satisfying results. Not to mention that in my book, anything served in ramequins automatically earns 5 points.

Oeuf Cocotte

- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche (alternatively sour cream, Boursin or any other fresh soft cheese)
- salt, pepper, paprika
Optionally :
- a small slice of ham, cut into strips (alternatively cooked bacon, tuna, tofu…)
- a handful of diced vegetables (could be tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, onions…)
- a handful of grated cheese
- a sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro…)

(This serves one, multiply by the number of eaters.)

If you’ve chosen to include diced vegetables that need to be cooked (this is unnecessary for tomatoes for example), heat up a little oil in a small skillet, and sautee the vegetables until tender.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Grease a small ramequin, lay the ham, vegetables and crème fraîche at the bottom, and break the egg on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper. If you’re using dried herbs, sprinkle them on now. Top with cheese if you wish.

Put the ramequin in a gratin dish, and pour hot water in the dish to about half the height of the ramequin. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs.

Once the eggs are done, sprinkle paprika and fresh herbs (if you’re using them). Serve with warm crusty bread or toasts.

As you can see, this is a pretty versatile recipe. The only things that need to be there are the egg and the crème fraîche or some sort of fresh creamy ingredient. The rest can be added or omitted depending on what you have on hand. And if you have large ramequins and a large appetite, two eggs can be nice too.

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  • Vivien

    hi, i enjoy reading your culinary writings. And i like the photos too. Can you tell what camera you are using to take pictures of the food. Thanks!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Vivien – I use a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera, bought 3 1/2 years ago. I don’t think they make that model anymore, but I recommend the Nikon brand wholeheartedly, their products are very high-quality. If you’re interested in food photography, it’s important to make sure you have a good macro mode…

  • http://www.gastroblog.com Jackie

    I laughed reading about making your own lunch and the microwave — I was a bit younger than you when I was allowed to stay home alone (I think I begged and whined until they relented, as I was happier reading books at home than going on family outings to boring places), and I relied on the same ravioli and other tinned things (soup, Spaghetti-Os, etc). Except I totally bypassed the cooking stage, because I liked them straight out of the tin. My parents were horrified and even claimed that I would die as a result, but to this day I always eat soups and things from the tin. This grosses everyone out.

    I got the same warnings about the microwave, and when I once accidentally left a spoon in a mug of water for about five seconds in the microwave, my mother yelled at me that I had “taken YEARS off its life!” Every day was the day that the microwave was going to stop working, I worried, as a result of my forgetfulness…Ah, the worries of youth!

    In any case, this looks very interesting. I love Boursin and I like my eggs, but I never would have thought of putting them together like this. (And now I’m thinking of using Boursin in lieu of sour cream the next time I make an omelette.)

    I have two sets of ramekins, but have never once used them. Perhaps I will do so soon, in your honour!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jackie – two sets of ramequins? *Never used*? Do you know there is a law against this? You need to go make some crème caramel or oeufs cocotte, right this minute!

    Seriously, I’ll be very honored (no “u” for me! :) if I prompt you to discover the joy of cooking in ramequins. Just *owning* them is already quite something, but using them is even better! (I also use them to set aside prepped ingredients – toasted nuts, that kind of thing…)

    • Peter

      Uh oh, I use my ramequins for my cat’s food dishes!

  • Becky

    Hi Clotilde – How do you pronounce your name?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Becky – well, it’s more or less “clo” as in “close”, then “tilde” as in “Matilda”, but with a mute ending, not an “a”. Most English-speaking people pronounce it correctly by instinct, although of course it sounds quite differently with a French accent…

  • http://www.walkernewyork.com/eats/ kim

    This sounds like the perfect thing for a solo dinner. It can be so hard to find something to make when I’m just cooking for myself.

  • http://www.gastroblog.com Jackie

    Clotilde, I now have a new project to complete next week: use those ramekins! (One set are pretty oyster-coloured ones, and the other are just plain clear Pyrex.) I’m too much of a slapdash cook to be so prepared as to use them to hold ingredients, though! It would make me feel like I was a TV chef, so maybe I should try it.

    And I pronounce your name (in my head) “Cloh-TEELED” (rhymes with “peeled”). I hope that’s correct. I was told by a man in a handbag shop in Paris that I had a pretty good Parisian accent, but then again, he wanted me to buy a handbag from him…

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kim – it is indeed a very nice single serving dish with ingredients usually on hand. And very little dishes to wash afterwards, too!

    Jackie – your pronunciation seems right on the mark! Hm. My name is pronounced like “close” and “peeled”. I wonder what that says about me? :)

  • Maman

    Well, Clotilde, I did not know that you put metal in the microwave ! Another well kept secret ! Actually, it happened to me too, and it made a little firework !
    I should say that in “oeuf cocotte”, cocotte is neither a hen nor a demi-mondaine, but plainely the name of the casserole in which it is cooked !
    Love
    Maman

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Maman – it was purely accidental! And it happened just the once! I promise! :) And thanks for the cocotte etymology! Somehow I had always pictured a very small and cute hen sitting comfortably in the ramequin…

  • Nassim

    Taken from the dictionary:

    Étymol. et Hist. 1807 (MICHEL, Dict. des expr. vicieuses ds SAIN. Lang. par., p. 372). Issu, par substitution de suff., de cocasse, coquasse qui désigne différents récipients en m. fr. (1542 ds GAY) et dans les dial. du Morvan et de l’Yonne (FEW t. 2, p. 1456b), lui-même altération de coquemar*; suff. -otte*.

    Pour ma part je pensais que ‘cocotte’ était une référence à la coquille d’oeuf de Caliméro :) .

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Nassim – Thanks for the definition! Is this from an online dictionary? It sounds very thorough!
    –Caliméclo

  • Nassim

    yes, well guessed! This definition comes from ‘Le Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé’ –> http://atilf.inalf.fr
    undoubtedly the best online french dictionary.
    Its search engine even accepts phonetic transcriptions.
    Try ‘chaucala’ instead of ‘chocolat’ or
    ‘chove-çouri’ !

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Nassim – Wow! I’ve been hoping and praying for such a complete dictionary, it’s fantastic!! Thanks for the link!

  • Céline

    Oh là là, j’ai adoré ton petit texte sur les oeufs cocotte (by the way, moi aussi, je m’imaginais plutot une cocotte couvant jalousement ses oeufs !) et l’évocation de ma petite soeur à 9 ans !

    Je me rappelle quand tu faisais ces oeufs dont tu avais le secret, et moi, je ne savais pas comment on les faisait…! ;-)

    Je pense bien à toi,
    bisous
    Céline.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Ma Céline – Ca ne m’étonne pas que tu te souviennes des oeufs cocotte aussi! :) Par contre, je ne savais pas que tu ne savais pas comment on les faisait! Voilà, le secret est partagé maintenant!

    Moi aussi je pense à toi. Plus que quelques jours maintenant! Bisous!

  • bat

    J’adore les oeufs cocotte !!
    Et pour apporter un zest d’originalité, en plus de la crème fraiche, je te propose d’essayer de rajouter quelques copeaux de truffes noires …. un vrai régal !!
    Attention de prendre soin de laisser la truffe au frais un ou deux jours au milieu de oeufs ….
    Des bisous tilde !

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Tiste – excellente suggestion! Notre belle truffe du Périgord attend toujours son heure, elle est peut-être venue! Bisous, et à samedi!

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    My husband and I made this for dinner tonight (our version included sauteed onions, a bit of ham, and some peas, the creme fraiche, then a sprinkle of shredded cheese) and LOVED it.

    It gave me an excuse to buy another set of ramequins (as if we needed more!) and some delicious Pain au Levain from Acme Bakery in Berkeley.

    We’ll definitely be making this often. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  • Biondetta

    Now, thanks to Jenny raving about the dish on another board, I shall be making it soon, as well. It sounds like a perfect lunch or light dinner, or maybe even part of our Christmas brunch. I have some dishes I could make it in now, but I’m also getting some proper ramekins for Christmas. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jenny – So glad you enjoyed it and got new ramequins for the occasion! What do they look like? I love my little blue Le Creuset ones (pictured here). I got them (on sale) at Whole Foods in Cupertino…

    Biondetta – be sure to let me know if you try it! It should indeed be a great brunch goodie, and I’d be honored if this earns a place at your X-mas table!

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    Clotilde, I bought the same little Le Creuset ramequins, but in a grey color (and also at Whole Foods, but in Berkeley!). To tell the truth, I’d wanted some like this for a while, but just needed an excuse.

    There’s a very good chance I’ll be making this for myself again tonight, as I will probably be home too late to cook a full meal.

  • Melissa

    Wow! I just tried this recipe with pepper Boursin, sautéed mushrooms and dill w some olive/oregano Havarti on top. Sooooooooo good! Thanks Clothilde!

    BTW – Your site is inspiring two more Canadians to culinary adventures and for that we thank you!

  • Nyama

    Hello Clotilde, I can’t wait for your cookbook to come out. It’ll be a bit more organized than my pile of printed off recipes from the site.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe, I just need to get some ramekins. I’m hoping it’ll be enough to get my husband to eat breakfast. Thanks, Nyama

  • Agata, in Toronto

    Just tried this (been meaning to for a while) now that I have proper ramequins – and it was wonderful!!!

    Very delicate and just the right size, I think this will become a favourite alternative to my staple omelettes.

    I used Kefir (similar to yoghurt) on the bottom, some ham, green onions and grape tomatoes, bit of spices on the egg and a bit of cheddar and dill on top.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog :)

  • Janelle

    These are amazing. I don’t remember ever hearing about them before stumbling across this recipe entry earlier this week (when looking for more uses of creme fraiche). SO GOOD!! I think I’ve made them twice….no, three times this week already. This is definitely going on my list of things I make fairly often.

  • Mathieu

    Just a word about the meaning of ‘cocotte’ from a French cook : it’s not in reference to a hen, but means ‘cooking pot’. It is simply an egg cooked in a pot! Enjoy this recipe (excellent with only egg, cream and roquefort/blue cheese – no salt -)!

  • Carolina

    Clotilde,
    I see you have a lovely mini cocotte in your picture. I do own ramekins but had the fantasy of serving my eggs in beautiful mini cocottes with their own lids – any suggestions on where to find them?
    Gracias!!

  • Andrea T

    Ohh, you’ve inspired me to use my ramekins! I’ve got 4 that I’ve had for about a month (bought second hand) and just didn’t know where to go with them! Now I’m making some eggs as I write this :) I bet they will be delicious. Thank you!

  • Tam

    Isn’t a cocotte a cast iron covered pot?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The term cocotte can be used for several types of cooking vessels, including cast iron covered pots.

  • Todd

    These are great, and so easy, and so versatile.

    We get more eggs than I know what to do with, fresh from a farm, and I got 5 dozen already in the fridge, so THANKS.

  • Elaine

    My hubby and I were each searching for an appetiser course for a dinner party this week, and we both discovered this recipe(he, using a recipe book, me, using the internet), which we had never heard of before…will be tasting it this week…and we have lots of ramekins!!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Hope you have good success with that recipe, Elaine, do report back when you try it!

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