Sunday Brunch: Creamy Gratin of Hard Cooked Eggs

May 23, 2013

FOR A BREAKFAST OR BRUNCH PARTY, nothing beats this Creamy Gratin of Cooked Eggs. It’s easy to make. It’s gluten-free. And it’s rapturously-delicious. It’s also cook-friendly, because you can make the whole dish a day in advance, and then simply pop it in the oven shortly before your guests arrive. Here’s the recipe:

I suspect this dish originated in 19th-century France. But it has been adapted by countless American cooks. Like James Beard in the 1970s. And Paula Deen in the 1990s.

Creamy Gratin of Hard Cooked Eggs
Ingredients for 8 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 hard cooked eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise in half (see my easy-to-peel cooking method)
2 cups half and half (or, use heavy cream!)
2 tablespoons cornstarch, blended to a smooth paste in one 1/4 cup of cold water
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Big pinch of salt
1/2 cup shredded or grated Asiago Cheese

At this point, I suspect a question has popped into your head.

Question: KEVIN, ISN’T THIS DISH A LITTLE HIGH IN FAT?

Answer: First, please use your indoor voice when speaking with me. And next, the dish is indeed high in fat. And flavor. But here’s a little secret: You don’t have to eat the whole entree by yourself.

True confession: Today, I ate the whole entree by myself. And it’s all Brenda Johnson’s fault. (Brenda is my official taste-tester.) You see, after enjoying a sensibly-sized portion, I brought the remaining gratin to Brenda’s workplace. And guess what? She wasn’t there! Feeling sad and neglected, I dived into the gratin. And then I felt much, much better.

Burp.

To start, butter a 13×9 inch casserole.

Then peel 8 hard cooked eggs, and slice them in half lengthwise.

(To produce perfect, easy-to-peel eggs, just follow these directions.)

Arrange the eggs cut-side-down on the greased casserole dish, as shown.

Now make the bechamel, which, in this case, is gluten-free: Pour 2 cups of half and half into a saucepan, and heat it over a medium flame.

While the liquid heats, blend 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with one 1/4 cup of cold water.

Stir the cornstarch with a fork to achieve a smooth paste.

When the half and half starts to bubble, pour on the cornstarch…

And then vigorously whisk the mixture. The sauce — or “bechamel” — will thicken as the half and half comes to a boil. Whisk away for an entire minute.

Off heat, stir in a cup of grated Swiss cheese…

And half a tablespoon of Dijon mustard…

And a scant 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg…

And finally, a big pinch of salt.

Yes, I know that’s a little pinch of salt in my hand. I added more after I set the camera down.

Pour this velvety bechamel over the eggs…

And then top with a big handful (one half cup or slightly more) of grated or shredded Asiago cheese.

Ahead of time note: If you are not going to bake the dish right away, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Otherwise, bake on the middle rack of a preheated, 350-degree oven until bubbly and golden — 25-30 minutes. (Add an extra 5 minutes or so if your dish was refrigerated.)

And then prepare yourself for something rich and swoon-worthy.

If you’d like to garnish each serving (and really, you don’t have to), consider sprinkling the eggs with a little nutmeg…

And perhaps a pair of chives.

This is the serving I prepared for Brenda Johnson. The serving she didn’t get to eat, because she had the nerve to go on vacation. I can assure you her portion was delicious. Rapturously delicious.

Folks, as you can see, Creamy Gratin of Hard Cooked Eggs is very easy to make. For a Sunday brunch, I’d accompany the gratin with mimosas — equal parts orange juice and dry champagne.

Need a copy-and-paste version of the above? Here goes:

Creamy Gratin of Hard Cooked Eggs
Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 8 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 hard cooked eggs, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise (see my easy peel method)
2 cups half and half (or, use heavy cream)
2 tablespoons cornstarch, blended to a smooth paste in one 1/4 cup of cold water
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Big pinch of salt
1/2 cup shredded or grated Asiago Cheese

Special Equipment – a buttered, 13×9-inch casserole; a saucepan that will hold at least 2 quarts
Preliminaries: Set the oven rack at the middle position; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
The eggs – Arrange the peeled and halved eggs cut-side-down in the buttered casserole dish.
The bechamel – Heat the half and half or cream in a saucepan set over a medium flame. When the liquid begins to bubble, add the cornstarch mixture. Whisk continuously for one minute while the sauce boils. Off heat, stir in the Swiss cheese, the mustard, the nutmeg and the salt. Pour the bechamel evenly over the eggs; top with the Asiago cheese.

Ahead of time note: If you are not going to bake the gratin right away, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Baking – 25-30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake until the gratin bubbles, and the top turns golden brown.

Serving – Serve while hot. A mimosa (equal parts dry champagne and orange juice) is the perfect beverage to accompany this dish.

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More good eats:
Blueberry Bars
Cocktail Appetizer: Bacon-Wrapped Grissini
Root Veggie Pizza

Comments

  1. Beth Thomerson says:

    I am swooning, Kevin. Totally decadent, and may very well be on our Sunday brunch menu this weekend.

  2. Shannon says:

    Bechamel and hard boiled eggs? Plus a mimosa? Throw in a little bacon and you have the southern US trifecta. Happy Memorial Day weekend and thanks for sharing.

  3. Jill says:

    Kevin, you are funny!

  4. Cary says:

    Is this baby even legal? How bout I bring over a side of hashbrowns? This looks fabulous and my hens are crazy overproducing. Must try this weekend. Thanks again, Kevin!!!

  5. Cary says:

    Oops. Forgot to mention that you made me howl out loud with your BOLD question about fat content. You slay me! :)

  6. Amy says:

    That looks heavenly! I can’t wait to try it.

  7. Beth – Decadent indeed! If you make this dish, let me know how it turns out for you.

    Shannon – What would a Sunday brunch be without mimosas?

    Jill – You are sweet.

    Cary – Oh, to have hens. I’m jealous.

    Amy – This is what the angels eat for Sunday brunch.

  8. Valerie C. says:

    My son is home and gave this recipe high praise. We will make it this weekend :) Thanks!

  9. Gavi ... says:

    Oh Kevin! This is perfect .. perfect timing :) I needed a dish for Sunday that was a bit fancy. Oh ok.. I wanted to show off a bit ;) Thank you for posting this recipe …

  10. Gloria says:

    OK Kevin, I am a dietitian…and this looks yummy! But I would only eat one portion..and only make it with company coming..and only once a year! But I am making it. And by the way I am almost 60 and have good cholesterol and love eggs. Moderation and exercise. Good one Kevin blaming your taste tester. I might try buttermilk for half the 1/2 and 1/2 though. P.S. You forgot the serves 8 part?

  11. Anne says:

    Mother Nature was not very nice this week with a violent hail storm that devastated gardens in this local area. I have hosta leaves with golf ball sized holes puncturing new spring leaves, blossoms down on spring trees and garden plants washed away in torrential rains.

    To sooth my garden wounds, The King of Comfort Food, Kevin, produces yet another fabulous recipe. Comfort food heals all and this recipe is so delicious I swoon just thinking about it. Actually, the ingredients are all healthy and joined together they produce a healing feeling. I plan to half this recipe tomorrow morning and then go out and clean up and replant my garden. Thank you, Kevin.

  12. despina says:

    Give me a small amount of perfectly prepared decadent food over an entire fat free anything!

  13. Mary says:

    This is definitely my kind of dish. Looks YUMMY !

  14. Antoniette says:

    Kevin, I love your site/blog posts, I love your recipes, I love your gardening tips! I particularly love the fact that I can read it, and you always manage to bring a smile to my face. A man after my own heart ,lol. Looks delish and definately “comfort food”, which some days, I seem to need a lot of ! Thanks again!

  15. Kathryn says:

    This is just what I need for the many family visitors we receive. This will make breakfast so much easier.

  16. Mary says:

    So here’s the thing. I am an old lady and you would think I could make hard boiled eggs perfectly all the time, but I dont. I do add vinegar to the water.

    Would you please tell me how you boil your eggs. I am guessing you have a foolproof method. Please go step by step because I am usually messing up somehow.

    Mary

  17. Kara Udwary says:

    Brenda’s sister (me) would have been happy to taste test this for you in her absence!!!!

  18. Patricia A DeMeo says:

    This recipe looks delicious as do all the recipes. My family has vegans and vegetarians. Do you have appropriate recipes.

    I think it would be easier if one could comment at the top of,the page also. Today I had to go through over 500 comments on one and I totally lost another one. Thank you.

  19. Susi says:

    I will be dreaming of this tonight!

  20. Deloris says:

    OMG I am so going to try this, that looks absolutely decadent! I know I’ll make it, I’m trying to figure out what I have to pick up tomorrow. LOL

  21. Phyllis says:

    I will definitely try it! Sounds wonderful for a company dish. Love your recipes and your sense of humor, Kevin. You brighten the day!

  22. Trudi Dido says:

    pick me .! This Ga gardener (NY transplant) would love to put the hori hori to the test of thinning out TOO MUCH liriope .( in the south its also called monkey grass) the wonder plant to hold creek banks and the bane of neat edges… .it spreads every where!

  23. Lynda says:

    This looks divine, but I am allergic to nutmeg. Is there another spice that I might use to replace the nutmeg? I know it won’t taste the same but I think the seasoning is important to this recipe. Suggestions?

    Thanks!

  24. Lynda – I’ve made this dish with and without nutmeg. Delicious both ways.

  25. MaryAlice Christiani says:

    OMG…WOW, oh, back to inside voice…(: Kevin, you are amazing. These pictures and description has every cell in my body craving this dish. YUMMY! oh, sorry

  26. Jenn says:

    We have two gluten free family members who would love this! Thanks for a great idea. I plan to serve it with a slice of crisp rye toast underneath for the non-gluten free diners. This would make a lovely dinner entree with a butter lettuce salad and a tasty glass of white wine, too.

  27. Laurie N says:

    Thanks for making it gluten free! My daughter has celiac disease and she will love this!

  28. Debbie says:

    my freakin’ cholesterol is ‘tipping the scale’ but to sever this at a Sunday Brunch… with Mimosa’s… {{{SWOON}}}. :-)
    Thank you Kevin.

  29. Hey, Kevin –

    I SO enjoy your newsletters and watching your garden grow – your wicked sense of humor and delightfully creative flair for interior design and culinary menus…..
    —This dish sounds fabulous, but I’m going to take the liberty of “healthifying” it a smidge – such as, instead of the dairy butter, will use vegan and organic, Earth Balance – and instead of the cream, will try Tofutti brand vegan sour cream and cream cheese. I’ll use organic and humanely raised/free range ingredients – esp the eggs and cornstarch – if that’s not organic, it’ll feature poisonous Monsanto corn. Maybe a few dashes of Cholula for extra kick and teaspoon of quality garlic powder…
    —I think it would be lovely with a side of “good fat”, avocado dice or slices and maybe a few pieces of sauteed/steamed (in beer) “Field Roast” apple-sage sausage (VEGAN) — btw, I had given up vegan “meat” a long time ago due to taste and texture and of course, most like Boca burgers contain the GMO hydrolized veg protein – until Kris Carr introduced me to this Field Roast (comes in other flavors like Chipotle – great to crumble for Mex dishes!) — if you haven’t tried, hope you can find in your area. Here in Denver, I found them at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods – freezer section…
    —Think will try this next Sunday – thanks again so much for all you are and do!

    Hugs,

    Christine

  30. Finally a dish I know even my kids would love. I think I will wait till the fall to make it and I’m thinking of doing deviled eggs and then follow this recipe exactly the same.

  31. elli says:

    … back in 1948. my Mom used to make something similar for me … loved sitting at my little table and watching the snow fly by, eating this yummy dish … I’ve got to go make me some … thanks for the memory re-fresher !!!

  32. Della says:

    Kevin, oh my goodness! I can barely write this for laughing at your “inside voice” comment. What a treasure you are!

  33. Marrion says:

    You always make me laugh! Thanks for the delicious recipe and the chuckles. You’re the cat’s PJ’s!

  34. Pam says:

    This sounds so delish!! I will try it soon….get the ingredients next trip to the store.

  35. Ava lansbery says:

    I love this dish, I added. A splash of dry sherry to. The sauce…..yummy!
    I am so lucky, my neighbor sells eggs for less than I can purchase at the store.

  36. Chris Moreno says:

    I’m going to try this on Tuesday for guest coming to our bed and breakfast, I know they will love it. Think I will put it on toast points.
    Have you ever done a news letter on deer resistant plants or how to deter the critters? I can’t seem to find it, maybe you don’t have problems with them. I surely do. Thanks for all your good ideas. Hugs.

  37. Linda says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you so much for the hard boiled egg primer. I do so enjoy your site even though we are low carbing :-) I would like to know if I would have to use cornstarch if I used heavy cream?

  38. maris says:

    I read this the other day with your hard boiled egg advice and I laughed and enjoyed it so much that I had to come back today and read it again, plus all the comments that I didn’t have the extra time to read. Thank you for being such a nice funny person!

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