Eggs florentine

A classic Italian dish made with spinach and eggs which Valentine Warner serves as a treat for two
By Valentine Warner
Eggs florentine
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 350 g Swiss chard, with not too much white stalk, leaves removed and roughly torn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

  • 40 g butter
  • 40 g plain flour, white
  • 450 ml whole milk
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50 g parmesan, plus extra grated for the tops

Tips and Suggestions

It is important to press as much liquid from the chard as possible after cooking, as you dont want any of it leaking into the egg and sauce.

Method

1. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a rapid simmer. Pour in a capful of vinegar and let it come to a simmer again. Stir the water and, in quick succession, crack each of the eggs (or cook 2 at a time) and drop them into the vortex, keeping the whites separate with a spoon if necessary. Cook the eggs for barely 3 minutes. Fill up a bowl with cold water and when the eggs are done, transfer them to the bowl with a slotted spoon to quickly cool. Set aside.

2. For the sauce: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low to medium heat then stir in the flour with a whisk. After about 30 seconds, start to very slowly pour in the milk, then continue stirring with the whisk and pouring in the milk. When all the milk has been added, keep stirring until the sauce has thickened. Keep it bubbling gently on a low heat while you grate the 50g parmesan. Stir this in until it has melted then season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Simmer very gently for a further 5 minutes then turn off the heat and set aside.

3. Rinse the chard - the water droplets will help the chard cook without burning. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wide frying pan. Tip in the chard and fry for about 5 minutes until it wilts. If it starts to singe, splash in a few more drops of water. Take off the heat and press out as much water as possible with the back of a spoon. Return to the heat just to toss with a little salt, a grating of nutmeg and a grind of pepper.

4. Heat the grill to very high. Warm the cheese sauce and butter 2 gratin dishes or ovenproof soup plates. Divide the chard in half and make into a nest around the bottom of each bowl. Remove each egg from the water with a slotted spoon and briefly put the spoon on kitchen paper to absorb any remaining water. Place two eggs in the middle of each chard nest. Divide the sauce over the eggs, making sure it covers most of the chard too. Scatter extra parmesan and some black pepper over the top of each dish. Grill for 6-8 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling.

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