I can remember vividly the first time I ordered œufs et mouillettes. It was the summer of 2013 and I was in Paris for a week. I walked to Poilâne from my apartment in the Marais after already scouting it out as one of my favorite neighborhood bakeries. Along with their famed sourdough rounds, croissants, pain aux chocolats and buttery tartes aux pommes, breakfast is also served at this particular location, and I was eager to partake.
After ordering, the egg in its simple, elegant metal holder arrived, untouched. I paused for quite some time, knowing I should know what to do, but also knowing full well, I did not have a clue.
What was I supposed to do with it? I looked around the dining area to see if by chance anyone else had ordered as I had. I even asked a familiar face from a previous visit who I knew to speak English. Their guess was as good as mine (they were American). Okay. I had a small knife, so I assumed (remember, my French at this point in my travels and love for France was especially limited, nearly non-existent) it must have something to do with how I was to enjoy my breakfast.
Needless to say, I did cut into my egg. It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious and the soldiers (mouillettes) were devoured along with my tea. Since 2013, I have been served this dish one other time by a European who again assumed I knew what to do with an egg in a holder. Trust me, I recognize I am quite a neophyte gourmand regarding this dish, and my lack of a simple understanding of how to eat properly such a beautifully presented egg frustrated me, but then I just became tickled by it and decided to investigate, learn and make it myself.
Soft Boiled Eggs & Soldiers
- 2 eggs
- 2 slices brioche
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 scallion (finely chopped) (optional)
- fresh dill (finely chopped) (optional)
Bring a pot of approximately six cups of water (enough to full cover the eggs when you place them in the pot) to boil.
Once the pot of water is fully boiling, place room temperature eggs into the boiling water.
Boil for precisely six minutes (set a timer). Julia Child’s tome (Mastering the Art of French Cooking), on page 118, shares the precise time of 6 minutes for an average size egg.
Remove pot with boiling water and eggs from the stovetop. Drain the hot water and replace with cold water. Run cold water over the eggs for one minute to stop them from continuing to cook.
Set the eggs aside (you may remove them from the pot and allow to dry on a cloth).
Slice two pieces of fresh brioche (homemade or picked up from your local bakery), and toast until brown to your liking.
Remove toast from the toaster and slice into small 1/2 inch slices (narrow enough to dunk into an egg). Add butter if you would like.
Place each egg in an egg holder, serve with a mini knife and cocktail spoon, along with 3-4 soldiers (mouillettes) per egg.
Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, dill or finely diced scallions to add a simple fresh flavor.
To enjoy: carefully slice off the of the egg (use an egg topper, butter knife, kitchen shears or favorite sharp knife), enough so the yolk is revealed. Dunk your soldiers to combine the flavors of brioche and warm egg or use a spoon to scoop out the deliciousness.
The top of the egg can be sliced off a variety of ways. Mine certainly wasn’t clean, but it worked and was quite simple as I used a sharp chopping knife. You can also use an egg topper, butter knife or kitchen shears. It is actually easier than it would seem. The soldiers as well can be topped with butter to add extra flavor. Top quality, fresh artisan bread ensures each small bite is absolutely decadent. For me, brioche was the go-to option. Also, single egg holders can be found everywhere (I found mine at my local Newport Market here in Bend). I continue to keep my eyes open for unique finds at antique boutiques, but to get you started, Le Creuset offers a myriad of color options here.
In fewer than 10 minutes, breakfast is served. While looking complicated, it is actually quite simple and truly luxurious. Bon appétit!
~Find TSLL recipe for the steel oats, seen above, here.
~View more TSLL Breakfast Recipes here