It was on a trip to Ashland decades ago that I first enjoyed these baked eggs. We'd booked a room at the Chanticleer Inn, a charming Craftsman bungalow near downtown and the Shakespeare Festival grounds (yes, it's still there). The night before was a performance of one of the Bard's plays—not the one where some inventive but misguided director thought it would be totally cool if a lunar module descended from the rafters in the middle of the performance—and we'd walked back to the inn in the moonlight, the next morning rising to have coffee and breakfast in the quaint dining room.
Now, a dish can burrow its way into your brain for lots of reasons—a romantic setting, great company, a few too many mimosas—but this one was alluring because of its simplicity. Just butter, eggs, cream and cheese baked to a golden finish, crispy yet creamy, the yolks still oozing.
I'd begged the recipe from the innkeepers and we'd made them often in the years since, but it had been a long time since we'd pulled the stained, yellowed card out of the recipe box. Fortunately Dave was in the mood for making something besides his (perfect) version of Julia Child's cheese omelet, and I was so glad he was. This is one memory that's stood the test of time, and one we'll be enjoying for another umpteen years.
Chanticleer Baked Eggs
Great for brunch for a crowd (baked in individual ramekins) or just for one, the recipe below is an adaptation of the original from the inn. You can also add green onions, fresh chopped herbs, sautéed greens or potatoes, or chopped, cooked bacon before putting in the eggs…or just keep it simple. Come to think of it, this would be great with a breakfast salad, or for lunch or dinner!
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. cream or milk
Cheddar or other cheese(s), grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
Butter a 3 1/2-oz. ramekin or custard dish. Add cream or milk. Gently crack two large, farm-fresh eggs into the ramekin. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in pre-heated 425° oven for 8-10 minutes or until white is firm and center still wiggles.