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Eggs en Cocotte with Morel or Porcini Mushrooms

I love to make this with dried morels, which are available from specialist food shops, but dried porcini will also be excellent.

 Eggs en Cocotte with Morel or Porcini Mushrooms

  Serves 4 as a starter

 4 large, very fresh eggs
 ½ oz (10 g) dried morels or porcini
 3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
 4 oz (110 g) dark-gilled flat mushrooms, roughly chopped
 ¼ whole nutmeg, grated
 1 oz (25 g) butter
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
 3 rounded tablespoons crème fraîche, half-fat crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt
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You will also need four ramekins with a base diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm), 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, well buttered, and a baking tin measuring 11 x 8 inches (28 x 20 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One and Delia's Vegetarian Collection and has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Jan 1998).


Start by soaking the morels or porcini about 30 minutes ahead of time.

Place them in a bowl with 5 fl oz (150 ml) boiling water and leave them aside to soak. After that, strain them in a sieve and squeeze them to get rid of any surplus water. (You can reserve the soaking water, which can be frozen and is great for soups and sauces.)

Set aside 4 pieces of the morels or porcini and put the rest in a food processor, along with the shallots, flat mushrooms, nutmeg and salt and freshly milled black pepper. Process until finely chopped.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan. When it starts to foam, add the chopped mushroom mixture and, keeping the heat low, let it cook very gently, without a lid, for 25-30 minutes; the idea is that any excess liquid will evaporate and leave a lovely, dark, concentrated mixture.

All this can be prepared in advance, but when you're ready to cook the eggs, start by pre-heating the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) and boil a kettle.

Gently re-heat the mixture and, stirring in 1 rounded tablespoon of the crème fraîche or yoghurt, divide it between the ramekins, making a small indentation where the egg will be placed. Now break an egg into each one and season.

Stir the rest of the crème fraîche or yoghurt around to loosen it, divide between the dishes, then spread it gently over the eggs using the back of the spoon or a small palette knife.

Place a piece of the reserved morels or porcini on top of each ramekin, then place the ramekins in the baking tin, pop the tin on the centre shelf of the oven and add enough boiling water to the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Now let the eggs bake for 15 minutes if you like them soft and runny, or 18 minutes if you like them more set.

Either way, bear in mind that they go on cooking in the dishes as they leave the oven and reach the table.

These are lovely served with slices of wholemeal bread and butter.


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