Oeufs Mollets Florentine

1 12 2008

“What’s that?” you say.  Soft boiled eggs on a bed of spinach with Mornay sauce.  “Why didn’t you just say so?”

Actually, I made an amazing discovery while preparing this dish.  I may have discovered how the dish came about.  While it’s easy to wax nostalgic and creative and imagine a chef, trying to impress his clients with a new, unexpected egg dish for brunch, or a light supper…I don’t believe that’s where this dish grew from.  Let me drag you along through the barnyard and see what we come up with…

Have you ever had the experience of cooking extremely fresh eggs?  I don’t mean freshly purchased from the grocer, I mean fresh from the chicken today, fresh.  As in, run out to the hen house and grab a handful of fresh, fresh eggs straight from the “egg faeries.”  Um….the hens.  Farm fresh eggs have some qualities you won’t find in store-bought eggs (unless they buy from the farm).  The egg whites stand up fairly high and are compact, not running all over the pan.  The yolk is deep, deep yellow, almost orange and stands up above the whites.  These will make fabulous poached eggs and meringues.  They, however, make extremely lousy soft or hard cooked eggs.

A fresh egg hasn’t had the time to evaporate and create the little bit of air between the egg shell and the inner membrane of the egg.  No air space means the membrane of the egg is stuck firmly to both the shell and the white of the egg, so peeling is a mess.  It can be accomplished, but you loose a great deal of egg white in the process.  I believe this is one of the reasons “egg salad” was created.  What else are you going to do with something THIS ugly?

Big chunks of egg white tear away, firmly adhered to the shells.  No matter how hard you try to chill the egg down and no matter how much cold water you try to drizzle between the egg and the shell, there’s still no peeling one of these suckers prettily.

This is one of the prettiest of the 6 eggs I cooked and attempted to peel.  I’m familiar with not being able to peel eggs unless I take some additional steps, and suspected I’d run into this,  but hoped it wouldn’t go this way.  But, tear they did, and messy they got.  Then it dawned on me…was that how this dish was created?  A young chef who didn’t realize he had to use older eggs for hard or soft cooked eggs?  Did he drizzle Mornay sauce over the top to hide the unsightly mess?  When that didn’t work completely, did he then add a bit of cheese to further cover up the jagged edges and torn whites?

What do you think?  Doesn’t it cover a multitude of sins?  Oh, trust me.  Those torn eggs weren’t just for your entertainment…that’s what I ended up using.  Ok, I used the nicest of the 6, but each of these eggs has a nasty torn up area that’s pretty much disappeared beneath a shawl of Mornay and accented with cheese, Swiss in this case.  I don’t know where I can even get Gruyere around here.

It doesn’t much matter…one bite and you forget to see anything except the next bite.  Creamy…decadent…rich…sinful…and paired with a chilled Prosecco…heavenly.  I know…I’m mixing France and Italy, but I like Prosecco.  And we had a bottle nicely chilled on hand.  It was a very nice twist on a Champagne Sunday Brunch.  This is a keeper.  Next time, I’ll poach the eggs though.

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6 responses

5 12 2008
Michelle

I would have never known those eggs were all wonky under that Mornay sauce. It sure looks delectable.

4 12 2008
Michelle

I cheated on the soft boiled eggs and just poached them instead. I had an unfortunate experience trying to peel soft boiled eggs and did not want to repeat that nightmare again.

Your dish turned out great!

Michelle

3 12 2008
Natashya

Wow! Thanks for the tip about fresh eggs. I always wondered why sometimes I could peel them and sometimes….. they looked like yours.
Now I know!
And Prosecco, I love it! You are a lady after my own heart.
Your dinner looks great – nothing like cream and cheese with your spinach and eggs. 🙂

3 12 2008
Jessica

My eggs were a DISASTER!

Great job – your pictures turned out wonderful.

2 12 2008
Shari

Wow, I had no idea since I’m such a city girl! Thanks for the education!! I bet you’re absolutely right. We will miss you, so keep in touch!

1 12 2008
Kayte

These look really great! I loved your story about your thoughts on how these originated…you could be very right! LOL! I grew up on a farm, so I know this sad fact about fresh eggs being totally unpeelable! Mother always used to set some aside for a week or two for the Easter egg dying ritual each year for just this reason! Your recipe looks wonderful.

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