This simple and easy recipe is a great way to use your bunches of fall greens, not to mention a definite winner at the table! Don’t be afraid to mix and match your greens either. I like to use a combination of spinach, chard and kale. For a lighter meal use milk instead of half-and- half and omit the Gruyère or Emmenthaler. This recipe is originally from Jacques Pépin’s Essential Pépin. Also seen in the KQED TV series, Essential Pépin, available here, Essential Pépin: Egg-ceptional.
8 large eggs, preferably organic
2 pounds spinach, kale, chard or other winter green
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese (can be pushed up to ¼ - ½c)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and- half (whipping cream for a richer sauce or milk for a lighter sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Recipe by Jacques Pépin, slightly adapted by Joe Walthall
Bring 4 to 6 cups water to a boil in a shallow saucepan (about 8 inches wide and 3 inches deep). With a pushpin or thumbtack, prick a small hole in the rounder end of each egg (this will help prevent the shells from cracking during cooking). Using a small sieve, lower the eggs into the boiling water, and let it come back to a simmer. Cook for about 6 minutes. Pour the water out and shake the pan to crack the eggshells. Cool thoroughly using ice water to stop cooking. Gently shell the eggs (to prevent breaking them) under cold running water.
FOR THE GREENS:
Bring about 1/2 inch of salted water to a boil in a stainless steel pot. Meanwhile, remove and discard the greens stems (some stems of chard and small stems are ok). Drop the leaves into the boiling water and boil, covered, for about 1 minute, until wilted. Drain the greens in a colander and immediately refresh under cold running water to stop the cooking and keep the color. Drain again, pressing on the greens to extract as much water as possible. Put the greens on a chopping block and coarsely chop. Melt the butter in a skillet over high heat and cook until it turns brown. Add the greens, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, mix well with a fork, and cook for 2 minutes or until water is reduced. Arrange the greens in the bottom of an ovenproof dish large enough to accommodate the eggs.Then arrange the cold eggs on the greens, with a little space between them, and sprinkle the cheese on top.
FOR THE SAUCE:
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, until the mixture froths, without browning. Add the half-and-half, whipping constantly with a whisk, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Stir in the seasonings and continue cooking over low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly with the whisk. Cool for 6 to 8 minutes.Preheat the broiler. Add the egg yolk to the sauce, whisking very fast and hard. Coat the eggs with the sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Place under the hot broiler (not too close, so the eggs have a chance to get hot inside) for 5 minutes, or until the sauce is nicely browned. Serve immediately with fresh toasted bread!