photo by Caitlin Abrams
When it comes to brunch you make and serve at home (as opposed to the incredible brunch dining options we have here in these Cities), the lazier the better. Home brunch can easily be turned into an over-the-top affair—and an under-the-table affair if bottomless mimosas are involved—but that’s totally unnecessary.
As Ryan Lund, the executive chef of Uptown brunch staple Lucia’s Restaurant knows, slow and simple is the way to go.
In fact, we’re going to advocate that you step back and let the eggs cook themselves. This would be where Lucia’s amazingly creamy and deceptively easy Shirred Eggs with Spinach and Croutons recipe comes in.
“This might be a simple recipe, but that makes it a great one to use as a base,” Lund says. The process of shirring essentially means baking eggs in ramekins with a vegetable (in this case, spinach), a garlic-herb cream sauce (in this case thyme and rosemary), and something crispy (in this case, homemade croutons). The veg, herbs, and crisp factor in question are up to you. And as its baked in ramekins for individual servings, it’s easy to scale it up.
“I love keeping it seasonal,” Lund says, “So in the summer I switch out the spinach and cream sauce for fresh heirloom tomatoes, arugula and basil—or sweet corn with queso fresco, smoked paprika, and cilantro.” For a gluten-free version, Lund says, just substitute some rosemary-roasted potatoes for the croutons. Serve the shirred eggs with a side salad (Lund recommends arugula with sea salt, lemon and olive oil, or mixed greens with a simple champagne vinaigrette) and drinks (see suggested pairings below) and voila. A decadent brunch with minimal effort is served. Heck, you don’t even have to dish it out.
Just make sure the eggs take their sweet time. “Shirred eggs is one of those dishes you don't want to rush,” Lund says. “The slow cooking is what produces that creamy texture.” So brew up some coffee, sit down with your delightful brunch guests, and chillax. This one’s easy.
Lucia Watson’s Shirred Eggs with Spinach and Croutons from Lucia's Restaurants
- About 1 T. butter for the ramekins
- 1 c. cream (we used half and half)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 t. chopped rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- 1 c. cubed (crouton-size) bread
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 c. raw washed spinach
- 4 eggs
- Generously butter 2 12-oz. ramekins and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Put cream on the stove with half the garlic, half the herbs, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 4-5 minutes or until reduced by almost half. Taste the cream, it should be well seasoned. Set aside.
- Make the croutons: Toss cubed bread in olive oil (we sliced a small baguette), the rest of the garlic, and salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly together. In a hot skillet, fry bread until crispy and browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Put about a fistful of the spinach into each buttered ramekin. Break two eggs on top of the spinach. Place croutons on top then ladle cream over the mix to just cover everything.
- Bake eggs for about 12 to 15 minutes (depending on how soft you like your eggs) and serve at once.
+ PAIRINGS FROM SURDYK'S
We asked the experts at Surdyk’s for beverages to complement these shirred eggs. Here’s what they recommend:
Pairing #1: Segura Viudas Brut Rose
Brunch means bubbles, but unfortunately, they’re only enjoyed with the addition of orange juice. With all due respect for OJ, let’s try enjoying this classic brunch recipe with an unadulterated glass of Rose Cava. Eggs and cream will sing next to this classic, beyond-elegant Spanish sparkler.
Pairing #2: Ichishima Seishu Futsuu Sake
The “futsuu” in Ichishima’s Seishu Futsuu sake translates to “normal sake”—basically the equivalent of table wine. But this sake is anything but “normal.” Flower, pear, dried banana, spun sugar and white peach aromatics are followed by delicate sweetness and bright, clean acidity. The finish is dry and refreshing. Thanks to that balance, this sake pairs well with spicy foods or those prominently featuring herbs (like pesto or the shirred eggs recipe above).