Wine matching: oeufs en cocotte

Blanck Pinot Blanc 2013 Coop Pionniers champagne Jones Grenache Gris


The recipe

250g small mushrooms wiped clean
50g butter
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

Serves 4

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 wines

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.