Happy Birthday Julia Child! Eggs in a Cup with Ham and Mushrooms (Les Oeufs en Cocotte avec du Jambon et des Champignons)

I wanted to post this yesterday, but for some reason I had an error message from blogger. Better late than never :\

Happy Birthday Julia Child! She would have been 101 this year. I always try to remember Julia's birthday every August 15 because of her influence on cooking in America and because I admire her so much.

I know Julia created so many complicated recipes like Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin, but I felt like making something that I could do quickly and every day if I wanted to. Because I prescribe to the Paleo diet, I eat lots of eggs! One method I have been trying to perfect is cooking them in a cup, or cocotte. I am probably just being too particular, but I don't like it when the outside part of the white is leathery while the part around the yolk is gelatinous. Also, some methods recommend broiling, which just caused the yolk to become rubbery on the bottom and overcooked on top with a powdery texture that I find to be unappetizing. I was watching Julia cook some egg recipes on some YouTube videos, and she employed a water bath to create the perfect texture. I was also watching Jaques Pepin use the same method, and I like how he placed some flavoring items on the bottom of the cups before adding eggs. Ham with some particularly lovely baby portabella mushrooms is the combination I have come up with. It's a nice change from scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and omelets (my usual rotation). The concept and combination is very simple, but sometimes simple is the best.

This would be a good way to use up leftovers. Just substitute any leftover sauteed veggies or maybe bits of roast for the ham and mushrooms. Even leftover marinara sauce can be used, which is one of the ideas in the video I linked above. I think leftover ratatouille or fajitas would be really great. As Julia says, use leftovers with elegance. If you watch the video, she shows how to make plain eggs in muffin tins, which could be reheated in hot water---great for those who like to once-a-week cook!

Eggs in a Cup with Ham and Mushrooms (Les Oeufs en Cocotte avec du Jambon et des Champignons)
Printable Recipe

2 tsp butter
4 medium button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 oz ham, preferably uncured, finely diced
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small skillet, heat a tsp of the butter and add the mushrooms and ham. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and everything is browned.
2. Meanwhile, butter 2 7-oz heat-proof cups, such as souffle cups. Also, add about 1.5 inches of water to a pan large enough to accommodate both cups (or you can do them separately, it just takes more time). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
3. Divide the mushroom mixture on the bottom of the cups and lightly press down. Crack one egg into each cup, being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle with salt if you like, but Julia Child points out you shouldn't add any to the yolk or it could become speckled.
4. Place the cups into the water, which should come up at least halfway. Be careful not to get water into the cups. Allow the water to simmer around the cups, but control the heat so it does not boil. Watch for the white to start to set around the pieces of mushroom and ham. It is important to allow the white to set to the point of filming across the bottom in order for it to cook evenly. Then, add a lid and set the timer for 4 minutes for a white that is set but with a runny yolk. The middle should still jiggle slightly after 4 min. Remove the cups from the water and allow them to rest a few minutes before serving, peppering if desired.

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