Published November 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
Ideally, this dish should feature tender whites and runny yolks—but it almost never does. We baked hundreds of eggs trying to crack the code.
We’ve enjoyed perfectly runny, creamy yolks and firm yet tender whites but rarely both in the same ramekin.
We wanted to achieve the set-white, runny-yolk ideal.
For yolks to stay liquid, their temperature needs to hover around 150 degrees—and no higher. But the whites are just starting to turn opaque at that temperature and need to reach about 165 degrees to be properly cooked. To make this recipe work, we had to manipulate the cooking process so that the white firms up before the yolk, not the other way around.
We needed a buffer between the ramekin and the egg. With that in mind, we borrowed the idea of lining the ramekin with a rich base, such as spinach or leeks. We made a quick roux, which we flavored with half-and-half and cheese, then added the spinach or leeks. We then spooned some of the mixture into each ramekin and pushed some halfway up the sides, leaving an indented mound in the middle to help keep the yolk in the center of the dish.
After a few minutes in the oven, we added an egg to each ramekin and sprayed the tops with vegetable oil spray to keep them from blistering from the blast of heat. We removed them from the oven shy of their ideal final temperature and let carryover cooking do the rest as they sat on the countertop. Sure enough, the hot spinach or leek barrier had effectively cradled the whites so that they were tender throughout and the yolks were still jiggly.list of recipes