Shirred Eggs with Leeks, Ham, and Manchego

By Tara O'Brady
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This a basic technique for oeufs en cocotte, also known as shirred or baked eggs. This time around the eggs are paired with succulent leeks, frizzled Jamón Ibérico, and a delicate veil of Manchego, but options abound. Consider crisped chorizo out of its casing, lardons, or cubed country ham. Roasted tomatoes or wilted greens would be a fine replacement for the leeks, or an addition, as would cooked potatoes or rounds of toast nestled at the bottom of the dish. And, any melting cheese is appropriate — comté and gruyère are some favourites. A note for the cream: there needs to be enough to blanket the surface of the eggs, so the specific amount will depend on the dimensions of your chosen dish.



  • 1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dishes
  • 8 thin slices Jamón Ibérico or Serrano
  • 4 leeks, trimmed and white and light green parts sliced thinly
  • Medium-grained kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (80-120 ml) cream, table or whipping
  • 2 ounces (60 g) Manchego shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • Smoked paprika, as needed
  • Romesco sauce or salsa verde, to serve, optional


  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C) with the rack set in the middle. Lightly butter the inside of two oven safe gratin dishes or four ramekins, and put a kettle of water up to boil.
  2. Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium heat. Fry the Jamón Ibérico until crisp on both sides—don’t walk away, this will happen fast. Move the slices to a paper towel to drain. Tip the leeks into the butter and turn the heat down to medium low. Season lightly and cook, stirring periodically, until the leeks are pliable and translucent, about 10 minutes. If at any point the pan seems dry, splash in a tablespoon of water to keep things steamy.
  3. Spoon the leeks between the prepared dishes. Crumble some jamón to cover. Crack an egg or two into the dishes, depending on size, and then follow with the remaining jamón. Divide the cream evenly among the eggs, then season. Top with Manchego and a pinch of paprika.
  4. Tuck the dishes into a roasting tray or baking tin that will hold them snugly. Pour enough hot water from the kettle around the dishes to come halfway up their sides. Transfer the whole production to the oven and bake until the whites are opaque and set, and the yolks are cooked to your liking—10 minutes or more, depending on preference. (No more than 12 minutes for a runny yolk.)
  5. Serve immediately, with Romesco sauce, toast soldiers, crusty bread, or puff pastry straws.

Brown rice variation:

  1. Trim and slice 12 ounces mixed mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, trumpet, cremini).
  2. Set a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons neutral oil, working in batches if necessary.
  4. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms are well-browned and tender, 8 to 10 minutes, then stir in 2 cups baby spinach and 1 minced garlic clove, and cook until the greens are wilted.
  5. Season with medium-grained kosher salt and black pepper and move to a plate.
  6. Slice a medium zucchini into coins.
  7. In the same pan as the mushrooms, sauté the zucchini with 2 teaspoons sesame oil over medium-high heat until barely tender and touched with colour, about 3 minutes. Season and set aside.
  8. Portion 1 cup cooked brown rice between ramekins or similar vessels. Top with mushrooms and greens, followed by zucchini.
  9. Crack an egg into each dish. Season, then garnish with sesame seeds and gochujaru (Korean dried chile flakes) if you have some around. Divide 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock over the eggs, and top each with 1 teaspoon butter.
  10. Bake following instructions above. Serve with kimchi, sliced scallions, pickled bean sprouts, and gochjuang sauce alongside.
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