February 25, 2020

French Baked Eggs With Smoked Salmon & Tarragon Cream

Recipe: Melissa Clark

Try this French Baked Eggs With Smoked Salmon & Tarragon Cream recipe from the new cookbook, Dinner in French.

Is it at all surprising that when the French bake eggs, they do so in a bath of cream? Here, the cream is seasoned with fresh tarragon and lemon zest, and stirred into a nest of buttery sautéed leeks before being spooned into individual ramekins along with the eggs. Then, everything is baked until the yolks are still liquid while the whites turn just firm enough to hold their shape on your spoon. Because it’s hard for me to think about brunch without smoked salmon, I add a few slices here as a garnish, along with some capers for a salty tang. I would never say this is better than bagels and cream cheese, but it’s awfully good in its own French-leaning way.


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the ramekins
  • 1 large leek (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • Fine sea salt
  • 10 tbsp heavy cream, divided
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • ¾ tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 tbsp chopped capers
  • Crusty bread or toast, for serving (optional)


Yield: Serves 4

Thinking Ahead

Leek & Cream Sauce: You can make the sauce up to 2 days in advance and store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Pour off any excess water before distributing it among the ramekins.

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush four 8-ounce ramekins with butter and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the leeks and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook until they are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary. You are aiming for melted leeks with the barest touch of gold at the edges but no browning.
  3. Stir in six tablespoons of the cream, the crème fraîche, tarragon and lemon zest, and remove the skillet from the heat. Divide the mixture among the ramekins.
  4. Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Float 1 tablespoon of the remaining cream on top of each one, and bake until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny, 13 to 17 minutes (it will look jiggly in the center and that’s okay — the eggs will continue to cook out of the oven). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Top each ramekin with salmon and capers. Serve with bread or toast.

Excerpted from Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France by Melissa Clark. Copyright © 2020 by Melissa Clark. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.