Last year I got a book about keeping chickens. (This book.) I paged through it all winter, earmarking breeds and techniques and coop designs. And yet that is not my chicken you see up there.

It is my sister-in-law's. She actually has a coop, one that she cares for lovingly and knowledgeably. She is on her second flock; the first group of girls had a terrible run-in with a weasel or maybe a fisher cat while she was out of town and Alex and I were on watch. Whatever snuck in bit each and every one of the hens but took none of them for dinner, which somehow made it worse. Alex went next door to check on them one morning and came home broken hearted—the first and last time I have ever seen him tear up. There was nothing that could have been done—the animal pulled the wire off the eaves and then once in we think it panicked—but still. Chickens are not for the faint of heart.

But there are new girls over there now laying in the coop—beautiful black, white, speckled, and tan hens. They lay brown eggs and a few that are light blue, and every now and then we are lucky enough to get a dozen.

My go-to egg recipe right now is baked eggs—from a new local cookbook by Mattapoisett cook Karen Covey. It's perfect for this time of year: cherry tomatoes from the garden, a few sprigs of thyme, a little sprinkle of ricotta salata or Parmesan, fresh cream and eggs. Karen got in touch when she released the book, called The Coastal Table, and all of her recipes are inspired by local ingredients. The baked eggs caught my eye for their simplicity. They're quick and easy, but they still feel special. I made them last week, and again this morning for company. For tomorrow, there are another four eggs waiting in the fridge.


I have adapted this recipe somewhat from Karen's original. I'm usually only cooking for two in the morning, so I halved it. I also added more tomatoes—there are still enough that I'm looking for ways to use them up! And I think it's nice to switch the cheeses up depending on what you have.

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cream
4 eggs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
12 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or crumbled ricotta salata (or whatever other cheese you prefer)
fine grain sea salt, to taste
freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Turn on the oven broiler and let it preheat. Get out a small baking dish and put the butter and cream in the bottom. Put the dish in the oven and let the butter melt. Take the dish out of the oven and crack the eggs into it. Sprinkle the thyme, tomatoes, and Parmesan on top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 

Broil for 5-10 minutes, until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. If the top is getting too brown and the eggs aren't done yet, cover the pan with a lid or tinfoil. Serve hot, with toast to mop the juices up. 


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.