Friday, September 6, 2013

A New Breakfast Favorite

 Baked EggI've talked about my love for Baked Eggs Florentine before.  Featuring spinach, bacon, an English Muffin, Parmesan cheese, and a wonderfully runny egg, it's a breakfast I enjoy 2 or 3 times a year as either a "pick me up" or to celebrate a special occasion.

I didn't think the dish could be improved upon, until I caught a recent episode of America's Test KitchenBridget Lancaster demonstrated a version featuring a creamy bechamel sauce.  Since cream sauces are a major culinary love of mine, I downloaded the recipe immediately.
It wasn't until I perused the print out that I realized they'd excluded the textured muffin and smoky bacon.  Unwilling to sacrifice these parts of the dish, I began my day with an amalgam of the two recipes this morning.
Baked Eggs Florentine

Adapted From America's Test Kitchen's Recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 English Muffins
3 slices of bacon
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup half-and-half
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil spray
6 large eggs


  1.    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  2.    Fry bacon to just under desired doneness (I prefer my bacon crisp as the end result, so I fry it just shy of crisp). Crumble or cut bacon into small pieces. Toast and split 3 English Muffins. Lightly spray six 6-ounce ramekins with oil spray. Put half a muffin in the bottom of each ramekin, wrinkly side up.
  3.    Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in half-and-half; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly. Simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in spinach, Bacon pieces, Parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne.
  4.    Evenly divide spinach filling among ramekins, covering toast completely. Using back of spoon, push filling 1 inch up sides of ramekins to create 1/8-inch-thick layer. Shape remaining filling in bottom of ramekin into 1 1/2-inch diameter mound, making shallow indentation in center of mound large enough to hold yolk. Place filled ramekins in 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Bake until filling just starts to brown, about 7 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking.
  5.    While the filling is heating, crack eggs (taking care not to break yolks) into individual cups or bowls. Remove baking dish with ramekins from oven and place on wire rack. Gently pour eggs from cups into hot ramekins, centering yolk in filling. Lightly spray surface of each egg with oil spray and sprinkle each evenly with pinch salt. Return baking dish to oven and bake until whites are just opaque but still tremble (carryover heat will cook whites through), 6 to 8 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking.
  6.    Remove dish from oven and, using tongs, transfer ramekins to wire rack. Let stand until whites are firm and set (yolks should still be runny), about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
The smoky saltiness of the bacon, umami flavor of  the spinach, chewy texture of the muffin, and creamy bechamel all worked together with the egg, and its sauce-like yolk, to create a deliciously rich breakfast.

What's your favorite breakfast dish?
Recipe prints as page 2.

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