250g small mushrooms wiped clean
4 free range eggs
500ml double cream
30g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
French baguette, toasted to serve
A drizzle of truffle oil, optional
Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan-assisted.Thinly slice the mushrooms or chop roughly if any are large.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and as soon as it stops foaming add the mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. Fry the mushrooms over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften but before they start to release their juices.
Divide the mushrooms between the 4 x 200ml capacity ramekin dishes. Break an egg into each one and top with the cream, Parmesan and a little salt and pepper. Give the whole mixture a slight stir to just break the egg yolk, but do not over mix.
Place ramekins in a deep ovenproof tray and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 20 minutes until the mixture is golden and eggs are cooked.
Cool for 5 minutes before serving with crisps of French bread.
Variation #1: Spinach en cocotte. Replace mushrooms with 250g baby spinach leaves. Saute spinach leaves in a little butter until just wilted, divide between dishes and continue as above.
Variation #2: Salmon and dill en cocotte. Divide 125g smoked salmon between the 4 dishes and scatter over 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. Continue as above.
The Co-operative ‘Les Pionniers’ Non-Vintage Champagne (£16.99, Co-op)
There are few dishes that strike fear into the hearts of sommeliers like oeufs en cocotte. Egg-based recipes can be tricky to match with wine, especially when the yolk is still runny. White wines are a safer bet; something with a degree of richness but nothing overtly fruity.
Champagne is a good choice, and a richer style with some age would work well with the classic recipe with mushrooms and truffle oil. Vintage Champagne would be perfect if you want to spoil someone, but don’t miss the Co-op’s Les Pionniers NV. This blend of traditional varieties is made by legendary winemaker Regis Camus at Champagne house Piper Heidsieck. It may be relatively cheap but the wine is remarkably complex; smoky and dense, dry yet honeyed with cinnamon, coffee and caramel on the finish. It’s unbelievably good value.
Domaine Jones Grenache Gris 2013 (£14.95, The Wine Society)
If Domaine Jones doesn’t sound very French, that’s because Katie hails from Leicestershire. She moved to the Languedoc to work in sales and marketing for a local winemaking co-operative, but eventually bought some of her own vines including a parcel of 80-year-old Grenache Gris in the Maury Valley in the Roussillon.
When it comes to the alternative recipe that uses smoked salmon, this assertive white has the freshness, acidity and character needed to contrast with the intense flavour and richness of the fish. It has subtle pear, lime and melon aromas and although just medium-bodied it makes quite an impression. It has a firm, chewy texture and long, clean, saline finish. The hint of fresh herbs on the finish would chime nicely with the dill.
Domaine Paul Blanck et Fils Pinot Blanc 2013 (£9.99, Wine Rack)
The oeufs en cocotte with spinach is the most difficult of the three to pair with wine; the richness of the eggs alongside the earthy, bitter leaves is quite a challenge. Another reliable choice when it comes to eggs however is Alsace Pinot Blanc, a middle-weight wine with subtle aromatics.
Incredibly, Domaine Paul Blanck has been in the family since 1610, and they farm their land without using chemicals. Their off-dry 2013 Pinot Blanc is soft, pure and gentle. It’s an unshowy, well-made and enjoyable wine, but one that’s happy to let the food do the talking – perfect for a tricky match like this.
Based on a recipe by Louise Pickford. First published in Living France magazine.
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2017 Food and Wine Writer of the Year
Shortlisted for the Born Digital Wine Awards 2016 Best Editorial/Opinion Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2016 Online Drink Writer
Winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2015 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2015 Online Communicator
Runner Up in the Born Digital Wine Awards 2015 Best Editorial/Opinon Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Harpers Wine & Spirit French Wine Awards 2014 Best French Wine Writer/Critic
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013 Blogger of the Year
Off Licence News Top 25 Policy and Opinion Formers 2013
Winner of The Drinks Business Awards 2013 Communicator of the Year
Winner of Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2013 Newcomer of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012 Blogger of the Year
Matt Walls first got into wine working in an off-licence in Brighton. He has since worked for Bollinger Champagne and helped manage and buy wines for The Sampler, one of London's best wine shops. He now spends half his time writing about wine and the other half collaborating on various wine-related projects. His first book, Drink Me!, was recently published by Quadrille and has sold over 10,000 copies.
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- Vignoble du Rêveur 'Pierres Sauvages' Pinot d'Alsace 2013
This is made by Mathieu Deiss, grandson of the legendary Marcel Deiss of Alsace in north-east France - winemaking genius clearly runs in the family. It's produced from some small local vineyards he has recently bought and converted to biodynamics. The wine has no added sugar, acidity or yeasts and is bottled with minimal sulphur. It smells like the essence of fresh pear, with subtle honey aromas. It's just about dry, feels rich and full-bodied, then neatens up on the finish with well-judged acidity. It feels nourishing to drink, and has remarkable persistence of flavour. It’s £18 a bottle at Roberson, but is easily worth £25 for this kind of quality (click through).
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