Hah! Just when you thought I was finished cracking you over the head with egg recipes, I found another one!
I have to say, this is a nifty idea, and impressive. And funnest of all it’s retro.
(Hmmm . . . Mother’s Day breakfast ideas~~~~!)
Unfortunately, I cannot relocate this recipe online. Gosh, it was there a few weeks ago, as a Googlebook or something, but now I can’t find it. But I did note the actual publication information, if not a Web address, so now which is more enduring?
By the way, here is a somewhat similar recipe, Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps, which appeared on the cover of the February 2002 issue of Gourmet Magazine. (I remember the day that issue arrived in the mail: it was so lovely I zoomed right to that recipe and read it immediately!) The main difference with it is that instead of using ramekins, it uses a slice of ham, cooked to form in a muffin tin, as the serving vessel. Check it out—it has rave reviews—a real keeper!
The present recipe, however, is much lighter, since the eggs are whipped, and less chewy, since the ham is minced.
A lot of egg recipes take advantage of the contrast of yolk/egg—think of deviled eggs, or the “goldenrod” eggs I told you about earlier, or your basic sunny-side-up eggs, with that lovely gooey yolk to dip your toast into—and this one is in that category. However, it is the only one I’ve seen that simultaneously takes advantage of the whites’ ability to form a fluffy cloud of meringue. Fascinating!
From “Recipes for April Bills of Fare,” Good Housekeeping Magazine, vol. 56 (January–June 1913), p. 560. (Sorry folks, no hyperlinks for you; just my careful typing.)
Ham in Ramekins
Line small ramekins with a thin layer of minced ham, seasoned with chopped parsley and a little celery salt. Separate four eggs and beat the whites to a stiff froth, add one-fourth teaspoonful of salt; and fill the ramekins with this, making a slight depression in the center of each; into the nests slip the unbroken yolks. Dust thickly with grated cheese and bake in a moderate oven, just long enough to set the eggs.
A few notes: you might try different types of ham. I used “city ham,” minced to smithereens with my knife, and it stuck pretty well to the sides of my glass ramekins (you will not want to skimp on it); but then minced country ham might work better. I don’t know.
Don’t have celery salt? Neither do I. So I used my mortar and pestle to powder some celery seeds, then mixed in a tiny bit of salt. Ham really doesn’t need any salt added, though.
I tried a few samples using just a plain slice of ham, poked down into the bowl, but as it cooked it got kind of tough; I think it contrasted too much with the fluffy eggs. You don’t want to have to use a knife with this.
As I made the recipe, I wondered what was meant by “a stiff froth,” and I decided as I worked that it means a meringue—key word stiff—so I stopped beating it once the eggs just started to hold peaks.
I would consider omitting the cheese—or make sure to use a type that will stay very soft after baking and while serving. The store-brand cheddar I used got a little hard. Or maybe they sat too long as I took my pictures!
Next time, maybe I’ll try some crumbled feta or goat cheese. Or, maybe just use a light sprinkling of cheese instead of the “thick dusting” it calls for. (There’s also Velveeta, which melts so nicely, but I know you never use that stuff. Right? —Right.)
And . . . since you’ve read this far, here’s a bonus retro recipe for you, from the same place—Good Housekeeping Magazine from 1913, same article, p. 559. I haven’t made it yet, but it sounds like fun. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
Wash small potatoes and rub off the skins with a coarse towel, or pare and scrape them. Put into boiling water with sprigs of mint sufficient to flavor them well; and cook until done, drain and serve with drawn butter.