The eggs, ham and cheese in this gratin makes for a splendid brunch or breakfast dish.
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2-1/2 cups cubed baked ham
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
pinch of ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk, heated almost to a boil
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
dash of ground nutmeg
dash of cayenne pepper
ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup finely cubed cheddar cheese
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Butter a 1-1/2 quart round or oval shallow baking dish.
3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the onion and celery and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the ham and sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Mix in the tarragon and season with the pepper.
5. Scatter the ham mixture over the bottom of the prepared dish. Set aside.
6. To make the sauce, in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes without browning the flour. Add the hot milk all at once and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with the tarragon, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir in the cubed cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings.
7. Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Set 6 halves aside.
8. Coarsely chop the remaining halves and stir into the warm sauce.
9. Pour all but at 1/4 cup of the sauce over the ham mixture. Then nest the reserved egg halves, yolk sides up, in the sauce, spacing them evenly so they indicate the center of a serving.
10. Whisk 2 tablespoons cream into the reserved sauce to thin it, then spoon over the eggs.
11. Scatter the shredded cheese over the top.
12. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the surface is golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Makes 6 servings