In a small Paris cafe one warm summer day, I ordered an “oeuf en cocotte au crabe et l’estragon,” which translates as “an egg in a dish with crab and tarragon.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after my first bite, I was in heaven. The chef had baked an egg in a small gratin pan, and then topped it with fresh crab, “creme fraiche”, and a sprinkling of fresh tarragon. This dish included only four major ingredients, but they were magical together. A basket of lightly toasted country bread accompanied my “oeuf,” and I used it to sop up the delicious residue in the pan.
1/2 cup/120 ml “creme fraiche”
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 eggs, preferably large or extra large
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz/115 g fresh crabmeat, picked over
and brought to room temperature for
30 minutes (see market note)
4 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
- Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4.
- Place the “creme fraiche” in a small saucepan and set over low heat just to liquefy, 1 minute or less. Set aside.
- Generously butter the baking dishes. Break an egg into each dish, and then place the dishes on the center rack and bake until the white of each egg is firm and the yolk is thickened (but still runny), 8 to 12 minutes. Start checking the eggs at 8 minutes. Watch carefully and, when done, remove from the oven. (Note: Although the eggs are cooked in this recipe, the yolks are still soft. Children, the elderly, or those with immune deficiencies might want to avoid eggs with yolks that are slightly undercooked.)
- Season each egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle some fresh crab in a ring around each yolk, and then spoon 2 tbsp “creme fraiche” over the crab. Garnish each with a sprinkle of tarragon. Serve immediately.
by BETTY ROSBOTTOM