I love ramekins; not like how I love bacon, but more similarly of how a flower loves the rain. As bothersome as they can be to clean, I try to use them as often as possible. They're ultra-manageable, create perfect portions, and give a satisfying sense of ownership. With a little ingenuity, anyone can take advantage of these underused vessels.
I started using ramekins for entertainment purposes. They are an excellent way to create personalized packages for a group of people. Unlike throwing a nacho platter in the middle of starving scavengers, every guest feels special for getting their own dish. Everyone will be sold on the dish before they taste it--and 87% of the time feel guilty for the extra effort they think I made, but didn't.
This week, I built a brunch menu around ramekins. Many family style dishes are brunch appropriate, however I wanted to serve duck eggs sunny side up to take advantage of the rich yolk--which is a terrifying feat to do perfectly for a number of guests. Of course, a family style platter of scrambled eggs would be easier, but that would ruin my guest retention rate.
The two best ramekin egg preparations closest to sunny side up are baked and shirred. The only difference between the two preparations is a a spoonful of cream, which would be more appropriate for an inferior [chicken] egg.
To start, preheat an oven to 350 Dg, and then preheat the ramekins with a lipid dollop. Since I'm making duck eggs, I use duck fat so I can have the duckiest end result possible. This isn't just for flavor, but will lubricate the ramekin and allow for easy egg extraction.
Once the ramekins are heated, remove them from the oven, and quickly add one egg to each. The three possible ways to not ruin this step are to be awesomely fast at cracking eggs; crack the eggs into another dish ahead of time; or to get guests involved and assist, which will help them invest emotionally into the dish--resulting in it tasting better to them, enhancing their overall experience, making the host look better, and stress reduction.
The eggs will take 5-7 minutes to bake. As soon as the whites are set, they should be pulled so the yolk is still runny. Finish with a dash of salt. The eggs can then either be attacked inside the ramekin, or removed table-side (over the left shoulder of course). They're delicious as is, or on top of a piece of duck fat grilled sourdough toast and berkshire Canadian bacon with truffle salt (pictured).
To end the meal, I made HUM and ginger infused honey crisp apple clafoutis with cardamom whipped cream in ramekins. The batter was prepared the same as before, but this time I poured the mixture into ramekins.
The result is a hot, rustic, eggy, could-be-breakfast-could-be-dessert dish with cold cardamom cream filling in the crevasses. It took no effort either, since I made the batter ahead of time, then poured it into the ramekins to bake while other food was being consumed.
Ramekins aren't just for creme brulee and condiments anymore. Entire meals can be built around these sturdy vessels. When making a mass menu, consider ramekins as a manageable solution that will increase guest satisfaction.