(Psst! The recipe for the real version from The Cup Cafe was posted online! Get it here!)
Recently, I was in Tucson visiting family. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and we were trying to decide on a place to grab brunch. My sister is vegan so she recommended The Cup Cafe inside Hotel Congress, in downtown Tucson because they happen to have lots of vegan menu options. I had never been to The Cup, but always wanted to try their food. While looking over the menu, one dish stood out at me: Cast Iron Baked Eggs. I’d never before had baked eggs, and their version was decadent beyond belief: Two eggs baked in a little cast iron skillet, with leeks, Gruyere cheese, ham, and lots of cream. Vegan, this certainly was not! I practically inhaled the little skillet of eggs, even though they were piping hot from the oven. Any burns to the mouth were worth it for this super tasty dish.
After leaving the restaurant, I was scheming about how I could recreate a similar dish at home. The preparation seemed fairly easy, just throw some eggs and other ingredients into a dish and bake until done. For my version, I used a little ceramic ramekin cause I didn’t have a little cast iron skillet at my disposal, and I also baked the dishes in a water bath to ensure even, slow cooking. No overcooked eggs allowed!
creamy baked eggs
2 large eggs
4 T leeks, washed and chopped (white and pale green parts only)
1 T butter, plus more for the ramekin
4 T heavy cream
2 T grated swiss or Gruyere cheese
1 T chopped bacon or ham
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small ramekin (6 oz-8 oz capacity) with some butter and set it aside. Put the two un-cracked eggs into a bowl with some hot tap water so they can come to room temperature — it’ll make sure the eggs cook more evenly.
In a small saucepan, sautee the clean, chopped leeks over medium-low heat in 1 tablespoon of butter until they’re soft and just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Place the leeks in the buttered ramekin, and top the leeks with 2 tablespoons of cream, 1 tablespoon of cheese, the cooked bacon (I found it super easy and quick to just buy a pouch of Hormel Black Label cooked bacon pieces, but you can just as easily fry up some bacon or chop up some ham instead), and salt and pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt, as the bacon is pretty salty!
Crack two eggs on top of the leeks/cream/bacon, being careful not to break the yolks. On top of the eggs, put another 2 tablespoons of cream, another tablespoon of cheese, and more salt and pepper.
Put the ramekin into a baking dish and carefully fill the dish with hot tap water, so that the water is about halfway up the side of the ramekin. Put the dish on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the white is fully set and depending on how firm you like your egg yolk. I prefer mine on the harder side, so 25 was the way to go for me! I also baked the eggs in a fairly high-sided baking dish, so you may need to decrease the baking time if your dish is more shallow.
When the eggs are cooked, turn on the broiler setting on the oven and leave the eggs to get slightly browned on top, about a minute or so. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Take out of the oven and sprinkle on some chopped parsley, and ta-da! Breakfast is served.
This egg dish is best when served simply, as it’s pretty rich. I like to serve it with some toast soldiers and a bit of fresh fruit. Add some coffee or tea or even a mimosa or bloody mary, and you’ve got a perfect weekend breakfast or brunch dish! These baked eggs are also extremely simple to make a whole ton of, if you’re serving more people than just yourself. Just increase the ingredients by how many people you’ll be serving, and be sure to have a large enough baking dish where all the ramekins will fit comfortably. The time may need to be adjusted, so just keep an eye on the eggs so they’re cooked to the desired doneness. Happy eating!