Our girls are slowing down their laying for the winter. Since getting our own flock of chickens, I’ve become a bit of a snob (okay a total snob) about eggs, and it always makes me a little sad when we get to this point of the year. I’m so used to having über fresh pastured eggs that anything else just isn’t even worth it.
In the middle of the summer, we hit our peak of seven to eight eggs per day. Now we’re down to two or three, and by the time Christmas is around, we’ll be lucky if we nab one a day. And you won’t find me buying eggs from the grocery store (see: snob), so that means we’ve gotta get our egg consumption under control for the next few months. When we’re in egg rationing mode during the winter, I don’t bake with eggs. I don’t put eggs in meatloaf or burgers. The few eggs we are getting are reserved for the purest of egg-related indulgences—perfectly soft-cooked dippy eggs.
There are lots of ways to get beautiful runny egg yolks, but one of my favorites is by using ramekins in the oven (or, my country girl version of ramekins—quarter-pint jelly jars—also perfect for homemade fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts). It’s easy, consistent, and scalable—you’re only limited by the number of ramekins you own. This is one of my favorite simple breakfasts. On any given day of the week, if you took a peek at our breakfast table, you’d see us eating drippy eggs, toast, fruit, and coffee. This recipe is like peak Johnston family.
I’m normally a big fan of growing and using fresh herbs whenever you can, but this is one place where I think dried herbs really fit the bill. The milder flavor and not-so-leafy texture really goes well with the simplicity of a baked egg. It also means that this dish is perfect in November or in June.
The trickiest part with any soft-boiled egg is nailing down the timing. This can depend on the temperature of your eggs—store bought eggs need to be refrigerated because the coating on the shell that protects the egg is washed off before shipment, and they’ll obviously take longer to heat up and cook. Unwashed farm fresh eggs can be stored at room temperature and will cook more quickly. Ovens vary in temperature and have hot and cool spots. And, of course, we all have our own egg preference—I like a really runny egg. I just barely want the white cooked, and the yolk warm.
For my kind of egg, it’s about a five minute trip under the boiler if the eggs are cold, and right around three if they’re fresh from the hen house. You’ll have to do some experimenting to figure out your perfect egg. My best suggestion is to prop your oven door open and watch your eggs the first time you make them. Do the jiggle test every 30 seconds or so—just jiggle the pan a little bit. If it seems like the whole egg is shaking, they’re not done. If it seems like the middle is just a little wiggly, they’re nice and runny. And if there is no jiggle at all, they’re hard-cooked (delicious, but not what we’re aiming for here). Make note of the time, and then you’ll know!
Of course, dippy eggs have to be served with something to dip into them! You can’t beat just regular buttered toast cut into strips (or “soldiers” as they call ’em over in the UK). I like to dip and dip and dip, and then when all the yolk is gone, I use a small cocktail fork or spoon to scoop out and eat all the leftover yummy egg. Best. Breakfast. Ever. Enjoy!