Baked eggs with dried morel mushrooms and shrimp is one a great recipe I’ve borrowed from the Legendary Jacques Pepin, and a favorite of a number of people I know in the mushroom hunting community, including myself.
Technically, the dish has two names, the first is Eggs en Cocotte, which basically means eggs steamed or baked in a small ramekin placed in a water bath. The second name is more fun: Oeufs de Gaulle, named for the French president Charles de Gaulle that Chef Pepin used to cook for.
Eggs in cocotte is one of the classic dishes of eggs in the French repertoire, and there’s videos of Jacques making them in all kinds of different ways (like this one on eggs). Unfortunately the episode where he makes this particular version, and discusses his work cooking for the President I can’t seem to find anywhere anymore, but I know it was part of the Jacques Pepin Heart and Soul series done by PBS.
The de Gaulle version of the dish, as I remember it, differs from the classic eggs cocotte in that the eggs are steamed with a garnish of creamed dried morel mushrooms and chopped shrimp. That, my friends, is a fitting breakfast for anyone, president or not.
There’s lots of different ways you can make these depending on how many people you’re serving and how many eggs you like to eat, but it can take a try or two to get nailing the yolks down. When in doubt, undercook them a bit as they’ll carry over with the residual heat.
Dried or fresh morels are both good
My version here is basically the same as Jacques, but I use stock (shrimp or beef) instead of water to rehydrate the dried morels, and, instead of setting it aside for another purpose (I’m pretty sure Jacques did that in the episode) I reduce it down until the pan is nearly dry before adding the cream. If you’re using dried morels, I definitely suggest you do this.
If you’re using fresh morels, you can just add them to the pan after sweating the shallots and cook them directly in the cream, although you may want to add an extra tablespoon or two to keep it juicy.
Shrimp are optional
If you don’t like or can’t do seafood this is perfectly fine made with beef stock and ham, or skip the meat, etc.
Eggs de Gaulle with Morels and Shrimp
- Four 4 oz ramekins or custard dishes. Or larger cocotte baking vessels or similar for multiple eggs.
Dried morel cream
- ½ oz dried morels you can increase this to 1 oz if you like
- 1 cup hot stock such as shrimp or beef, or water in a pinch
- 1 oz 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- Generous splash of brandy
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter separated plus more for cooking the croutons if using
- Pinch of flour optional
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 large or extra large eggs
- 4 oz raw shrimp fresh or thawed, cut into ½ inch pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh cut chives to taste
- Croutons Toasted strips fried in butter 2-3 per person
Dried morel cream
- First, make the dried morel cream. Rehydrate the morels in the stock for 30 minutes, swishing them around occasionally.
- Squeeze the morels dry, reserving the soaking liquid, then remove to a cutting board and cut into 1 inch pieces. If, for any reason you suspect your morels were at all dirty/sandy, swish them a second time quickly in a couple cups of cold water, then discard the water and reserve the morels.
- Heat the tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan, add the shallot and cook for a minute, then add the morels and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Sprinkle over the flour and mix to combine, then add the brandy and cook off.
- Add the stock, bring to a simmer and reduce until the pan is nearly dry. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt. Add the cream and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Double check the seasoning and adjust as needed until it tastes rich and delicious.
- From here the sauce can be made a day ahead of time.
Cook the eggs
- Grease 4 ramekins or other oven-safe dishes with butter, then put them in a deep, wide pot where they will all lay flat.
- Divide the shrimp evenly between the four ramekins, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour water into the pot (not in the ramekins) until the ramekins are half-submerged.
- Bring the pot to a simmer, uncovered and cook the shrimp until just starting to turn pink, about 3-4 minutes, then crack an egg into each ramekin.
- Warm up the morel cream to loosen it and divide it and the morels between each serving dish, trying not to cover up the egg yolks.
- Cover the pot and turn the heat to low, then set a timer for 4 minutes. Check on the eggs by gently poking the yolks—they should be runny still. Cook them another minute if needed.
- When in doubt, under cook them a tiny bit. Remove the ramekins using tongs or another utensil like a spatula, transfer to a plate, sprinkle with chives and serve with the croutons on the side.
- Steamed, buttered nettles or other greens are a great side dish to serve with them.