Oeufs en cocotte with spinach and Parma ham

Serves 4

I think of this comforting little egg dish as something to be eaten for a light, late-night supper. Its simplicity is appealing: if the spinach is prepared beforehand there is very little to do except crack the eggs.

200g/7oz small, young spinach leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A knob of unsalted butter
8 slices of Parma, San Daniele or Bayonne ham, roughly torn
4 large, fresh, free-range eggs
4 tbsp double cream
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
50g/2oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Rustic bread, to serve

Prepare the spinach in advance (in the afternoon, perhaps). Wash the leaves to remove all traces of dirt and drain well. Place a large, dry pan over a low heat and add the spinach. Cook briefly until the spinach has just wilted – no additional water is needed as the water clinging to the leaves after washing is enough. Drain and set aside until the spinach is cold enough to handle. In batches, squeeze it with your hands to get rid of the excess water and place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate.

When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Place the blanched spinach in a pan with a knob of butter to warm through. Season with a little more pepper to taste. Divide equally between four ramekins (about 200ml/7fl oz capacity). Arrange the ham on top.

Crack an egg into each ramekin and spoon over the cream. Finish with a sprinkling of nutmeg and Parmesan, and a generous grinding of pepper.

Stand the ramekins in a roasting tin and pour in enough hot water to come two-thirds of the way up the side of the dishes. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for about eight minutes; the white should be set, with the yolk still soft.

Carefully lift the ramekins out of the bain-marie. Serve on small plates, with a folded napkin underneath the ramekins to secure them, and rustic bread alongside.

Very fresh, free-range organic eggs will make all the difference to this dish. As you crack open each one, the white should be viscous and buoyant, and the yolk glossy and a warm yellow colour.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders