Oven baked eggs oozing their liquid sunshine and swimming in a sea of smoked tasso-infused cream is a thing of beauty, and taste. I’ve made this easy breakfast dish for years, and it still astounds me how flavorful and straightforward it is. In my travels across France, I recall dining on traditional oeufs en cocotte (eggs cooked in shallow ramekins), and how the velvet cloak of cream works so beautifully in bathing the yolks. Baking eggs in reduced cream is classic French, and with the addition of fresh basil from my herb garden, a sprinkle or two of Cajun spice along with chopped smoked tasso, it is French Louisiana as well.
Tasso (TAH so) is a staple of most every Cajun pantry. It is a dried and smoked piece of pork used much like ham in cooking. It’s spiced with cayenne pepper and garlic, and while fully cooked, it is usually used only as an ingredient in another dish. Savoie’s from St. Landry Parish is one of the largest sausage processors around, and their tasso is one of the best in Acadiana; I always keep a package in my freezer.
These baked eggs are an elegant centerpiece for a weekend brunch and with a slice of buttered and toasted French bread for sopping up the yolk, it is filling as well.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped tasso or smoked ham
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, stemmed
- 8 large eggs
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs of basil, for garnish
- Toasted French bread slices, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 350°F on the upper rack.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter, onion, and tasso. Sauté until the onion turns translucent and the tasso begins to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cream, and continue stirring as the cream simmers and begins to reduce. Add the basil. Large bubbles will appear in the cream as the moisture releases, and it thickens. Once it reduces to a sauce consistency and the basil leaves are wilted, lower the heat to a simmer.
- Add the Cajun seasoning, stir, and remove from the heat.
- Gently (being careful not to break the yolks) add 2 eggs into each of four shallow ovenproof baking dishes (or ramekins). Divide the sauce evenly among the dishes. Place the baking dishes on a foil-lined metal tray and bake on the upper rack of the hot oven. Watch carefully (you may need to rotate the tray) and bake only until the whites set with a still sunny-side-up runny yolk, about 10 minutes.
- Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a half-grind of black pepper. Top with a sprinkle of diced green onion tops. Garnish with a sprig of basil, and serve with toasted French bread slices.
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