Whether you like your eggs scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, or poached, you probably think you've tried every way to cook them, right? Well, don’t be so shirr.
I was recently introduced to shirred eggs during a weekend stay at The DeBruce, a chic hotel in the Catskills that’s anchored by an incredible restaurant helmed by Chef Aksel Theilkuhl. Not only did I order the shirred eggs for breakfast both mornings, but I loved them so much I made them again for myself when I returned home. They're the perfect hearty but not too heavy winter weekend breakfast.
Just to give you a little perspective on how great these eggs were, keep in mind I ate in Chef Theilkuhl’s dining room all weekend. My feasts included a roast chicken for two that was the juiciest I’ve ever had, a “deer hang” consisting of multiple preparations of venison, a guinea fowl terrine, a trout skeleton with “all of its parts,” salty-delicious chicharrones that were served with a side of house-made fermented hot sauce and more inventive, carefully-crafted gin cocktails than I'd care to admit.
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Every bite of food I had over the weekend was superb, but the thing that really stuck with me, that I craved the most after leaving, was the simple, sizzling egg casserole. Was it the dish's purity? Was it how quickly and perfectly the eggs cooked? Was it my morning "hangry-over" due to the aforementioned drinks? Or was it because it’s one of the few menu items I thought I’d actually be able to recreate myself? Truth be told, it’s probably a combination of all these things that sent me on my quest to shirr up my breakfast routine.
After doing some research, I learned that, traditionally, shirred eggs are eggs cracked in a dish, topped with a splash of cream and a little parmesan and then baked until the whites are firm and the yolks are still a bit soft. Chef Theilkuhl’s versions were a bit more complex. The first morning some roasted carrots and leeks were nestled into the bottom of the dish and a spoonful of creamy farmer’s cheese was dolloped on top before baking. The next morning, whole sautéed mushrooms were peaking out from the bottom of the dish. When I first took a shot at making shirred eggs at home, I cracked the eggs over sautéed spinach with a dollop of ricotta on top. Success! For the second bake, a bit of cooked chorizo and roasted sweet potato with a sprinkle of cotija. All equally delicious and almost as good as The DeBruce’s version.
To get started for yourself, all you need is a few eggs, a splash of cream and a little cheese of your choosing for a base. After that, how you personalize your shirred eggs is up to you.
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