When we were kids, eggs were a staple on our table. Meat or poultry showed up there once a week at the most, and more often than not, our "meat" dinners consisted of a delicious ragout of potatoes or cabbage containing bits of salt pork or leftover roast. Eggs were always a welcome main dish, especially in a gratin with béchamel sauce and cheese, and we loved them in omelets with herbs and potatoes that Maman would serve hot or cold with a garlicky salad.
Our favorite egg recipe, however, was my mother's creation of stuffed eggs, which I baptized "eggs Jeannette." To this day, I have never seen a recipe similar to hers, and we still enjoy it often at our house. Serve with crusty bread as a first course or as a main course for lunch.
6 jumbo eggs (preferably organic)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably peanut oil)
2 to 3 tablespoons leftover egg stuffing (from above)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon water
Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Hard-Cooked Eggs: Put the eggs in a small saucepan, and cover with boiling water. Bring to a very gently boil, and let boil for 9 to 10 minutes. Drain off the water, and shake the eggs in the saucepan to crack the shells. (This will help in their removal later on.) Fill the saucepan with cold water and ice, and let the eggs cool for 15 minutes.
Shell the eggs under cold running water, and split them lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully, put them in a bowl, and add the garlic, parsley, milk, salt, and pepper. Crush with a fork to create a coarse paste. Spoon the mixture back into the hollows of the egg whites, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling to use in the dressing.
Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet, and place the eggs, stuffed side down, in the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the eggs are beautifully browned on the stuffed side. Remove and arrange, stuffed side up, on a platter.
For the Dressing: Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or a spoon until well combined.
Coat the warm eggs with the dressing, and serve lukewarm.
From The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin, Houghton Mifflin Company, April 2003. Copyright 2003 by Jacques Pépin.
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