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Green eggs and ham

Three recipes inspired by a literary classic.

By Adam Ried
February 28, 2010
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Don’t tell the Whos down in Whoville -- they shared their roast beast with the reformed hero of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! -- but green eggs with ham is probably Dr. Seuss’s most famous dish.

There are many ways to make a green egg, and here we consider three. Classic eggs en cocotte are baked in ramekins with a little cream, which I infuse with shallots and watercress for both its peppery bite and emerald hue. The spinach that defines eggs Florentine is a natural for the project, as are the scallions and asparagus in the frittata.

Green Eggs en Cocotte in Ham Cups

Makes 6

Don’t make the watercress cream ahead, because its flavor intensifies as it rests, and it may become too peppery.

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium shallot, minced

½ cup heavy cream

1¼ cups lightly packed watercress leaves

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

6 slices (about 6 ounces) low-sodium deli ham, such as Black Forest

6 eggs

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and heat until it stops foaming. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2½ minutes. Add the cream, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Off heat, add the watercress and stir until just wilted, about 40 seconds. Allow the mixture to cool briefly, pour it into a blender, add the lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, puree (with the lid ajar to vent steam), and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a slice of ham into each of 6 5-ounce ramekins. Break an egg into each ramekin and spoon about 1½ tablespoons watercress cream carefully around each egg, leaving the yolks exposed.

Place the ramekins in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, place the dish on the oven rack, and pour hot water into the dish until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake until whites are set and yolks are thickened, 13 to 18 minutes (depending on how well done you like your eggs). Remove the ramekins from the water bath, sprinkle eggs and ham with salt and pepper to taste, and serve at once.

Eggs Florentine with Ham

Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for pan

3 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)

¾ pound ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

6 large eggs

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a medium-size (about 2 quarts) shallow baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Spread a clean dish towel on a work surface, place the spinach in the center of the towel, gather the edges and corners, and twist hard to wring out as much liquid as possible. Empty spinach into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is light golden, about 1½ minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then ½ cup of the cream, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, about 3½ minutes. Add nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and Parmesan, and stir to combine. Stir in the spinach. Remove 1 cup of the mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Add the ham to the mixture still in the pan, stir to mix, pour it into the baking dish, and spread into an even layer.

Use the back of a spoon to make 6 indentations in the spinach layer, crack an egg into each, and sprinkle each egg lightly with salt and pepper. Add the remaining ¼ cup of cream to the reserved sauce-spinach mixture and stir to mix. Spoon this carefully around the eggs, leaving the yolks exposed. Bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are thickened, 17 to 20 minutes (depending on how well done you like your eggs), and serve at once.

Asparagus, Scallion, and Ham Frittata

Serves 6

9 large eggs

12 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

Salt and pepper

1½ tablespoons olive oil

¼pound ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes (about ¾ cup)

½ pound asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off and spears cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 1½ cups)

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, scallion greens, 3/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; and set aside.

In a medium nonstick skillet (with a heatproof handle) set over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus and scallion whites, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is just barely tender, about 2½ minutes longer. Distribute this mixture evenly in the pan, then pour in the eggs and scallion greens mixture, and cook, without stirring, until edges begin to set and bubbles begin to appear in the center, about 1 minute. Transfer the skillet to the oven, and cook until the center is just set and the frittata has puffed, about 12 minutes. Loosen the edges with a spatula, slide the frittata onto a serving plate, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes, cut into 6 wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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Oh, the breakfast you'll eat Watercress cream and ham slices make for a Dr. Suess-inspired twist on classic eggs en cocotte . (Photograph by Jim Scherer; Styling by Catrine Kelty) Oh, the breakfast you'll eat Watercress cream and ham slices make for a Dr. Suess-inspired twist on classic eggs en cocotte.
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