When I first started planning for Mother’s day brunch this year, I thought about whipping up some Eggs Benedict, a perennial favorite with most moms. As our guest list grew to include four moms and their families, however, the thought of poaching dozens of eggs seemed a bit more of a job than I was willing to tackle. Instead, I crafted an old friend, this quiche lorraine from Bouchon Bakery, and for anyone in the crowd who didn’t want to eat meat, these amazing sformati from Cook’s Illustrated. The beauty of both of these egg dishes is that they can be made in advance. The quiche gets re-heated by the slice just before serving, and the sformati can be formed in advance, then cooked at the last minute and served hot or at room temperature.
I had never made sformati before, and in fact, until I saw my boss make some at work for TV last year, had never even had a chance to try them. These pretty little Italians seem to me to be the love child of a crustless quiche and a souffle, not as dense as the former, not as light and airy as the latter. They cook up in ramekins, and can either be served in the cups, or for a snappier presentation, turned out onto a plate. A lemon-herb and panko gremolata delivers some much needed color and crunch, and lemon zest, pecorino and fresh tarragon and chives in the custard make for mighty tasty treat! These are obviously great for breakfast or brunch, but would be equally awesome as part of a dinner / cocktail buffet. I hope you give them a spin soon.
Cheers – Steve
- 8 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- FOR THE SFORMATI: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease six 6-ounce ramekins and place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Whisk eggs and salt together in bowl until homogeneous and set aside.
- Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and half-and-half until smooth. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer, 2 to 4 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat and whisk in Pecorino, pepper, and cayenne until smooth. Let béchamel cool for 5 minutes.
- Whisk chives, tarragon, lemon zest, and reserved eggs into béchamel until smooth. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins (filling should be 1/4 inch from top of each ramekin). Bake until centers register 175 to 180 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes.
- FOR THE GREMOLATA: While sformati are baking, melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add panko and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let mixture cool for 2 minutes, then stir in Pecorino, chives, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove sformati from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert sformati onto individual plates. Sprinkle evenly with gremolata and serve.