I have a good friend who’s Welsh and I love to tease him about his national “flower.” How can you take a country seriously when its national symbol is a member of the onion family?
Leeks seldom get centre stage the way they do in this flavourful little dish, which has given me a new respect for leeks. I hate to admit it, but maybe the Welsh are on to something after all.
I have only made this twice, but I am pretty sure it will make regular appearances at our table. The bite of the leeks, cooked down a little it butter to take of a bit of the edge, is exactly the right compliment for the egg, which is baked in a little cream. Don’t overcook this; the soft yolk mixing with the cream and butter is what gives this dish the richness it needs to offset the sharpness of the leeks .
This would work equally well as breakfast, lunch or a light dinner. It is quick enough for the busiest weeknight and elegant enough for guests, especially if they’re Welsh.
Recipe adapted from Camino in Oakland, Calif.
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sliced leeks, light green and white parts only
2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
2 sprigs parsley, leaves roughly chopped
1 large farm-fresh egg
About 2 tablespoons half-and-half
Coarsely ground black pepper
Grilled or toasted bread slices.
1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, a splash of water and a pinch of salt and cook until the leeks are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the herbs and transfer to a 6-inch cazuela, cocotte or other ceramic dish, covering the bottom with the butter, leeks and herbs.
2. Crack the egg into the middle of the dish. Add enough half-and-half to barely cover the white. Sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper. Cook until the white is set, 8 to 12 minutes. Serve with grilled or toasted bread.