Eggs Chartres

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Normally I don’t look anything food-related up on the internet because my blog is all about what I already know after all my years of cooking professionally and otherwise. But when I came across this recipe that I had made once a long time ago, the name of it really intrigued me. So I googled.

And, I got nothing. Besides all kinds of info regarding the cathedral in Chartres, there was no insight into why this dish is called eggs Chartres. It does seem to be unanimously Creole in nature, which is exactly where this recipe lives, in the American Cooking: Cajun and Creole recipe booklet, part of the extensive Time Life Series Foods of the World.

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It’s a very easy recipe – the hardest part is peeling the hard-boiled eggs!

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So, without any further ado, I give you this fabulous and a little spicy egg dish. It would be great for breakfast, but also fabulous for lunch or brunch.

I’m copying the recipe exactly as it is in the cookbook. However, I made a half recipe since I am only feeding two people, including myself, these days.

Creamed Egg Chartres
To serve 8

1 tablespoon butter, softened, plus 8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits
5 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3/4 cup flour
3 egg yolks, plus 12 hard-cooked eggs*, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. With a pastry brush, spread the tablespoon of softened butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 14-by-9-by-2-inch baking-serving dish. Set the dish aside.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt the 8 tablespoons of butter bits over moderate heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook for about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent but not brown.

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Add the flour and mix well, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes to remove the raw taste of the flour.

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Meanwhile, in a deep bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk or a rotary or electric beater until they are smooth. Beat in the milk, salt, and red pepper, and set aside.

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Stirring the onion mixture constantly with a wire whisk, pour in the egg yolks and milk in a slow, thin stream and cook over high heat until the sauce comes to a boil, thickens heavily and is smooth.

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Taste the sauce for seasoning, remove the skillet from the heat and gently stir in 9 of the hard-cooked eggs.

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Pour the eggs and sauce into the buttered dish and scatter the Parmesan over the top, followed by the paprika.

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Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce begins to bubble.

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Garnish the top with the remaining hard-cooked egg slices and serve at once, directly from the baking dish.

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* Don’t do what I did. I cooked a dozen eggs for this recipe, and to have some hard-boiled eggs extra for salads. When they were done, I poured off a lot of the hot water, then added ice. But then I forgot about them, and when I got back to them, the water was still warm. Normally I would have changed out the water within minutes of the ice melting, and added more ice, eventually refrigerating the eggs. If you have an eagle eye, you’ll notice that there is a green ring around the yolks of my eggs. This is from letting the eggs sit in warm water, without forcing a freeze on them with icy water. I even used to do this little trick when I taught girls’ cooking classes. By the end of the two hours, the “properly” cooled egg would be perfect, with a nice uniformly yellow yolk, and the improperly cooled egg would have that dreaded green ring. Horrors. Fortunately no one in my house cares. But the green definitely isn’t pretty!

note: Eggs Chartres is delicious as is, but is also good with sausage or bacon. I could enjoy it with a green or a tomato salad. But it is very rich.

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