BEFORE WE START: I wrote the bulk of this post back in late March, right after we moved into the new house. Though I am happy to report our weather has vastly improved, the recipe, you will find, is no less relevant.
I recently made a playlist called Blinding Sun. It’s inspired by, well, the weather we are currently not having. My new favorite coping mechanism of the last several weeks has been creating escapist/denialist playlists that allow me to pretend my winter coat hasn’t merged with my skin cells, and continue to blame my overall creakiness and scaliness on old hag winter, and not on my age. (I’m not actually very old. But it’s becoming harder not to subscribe to the stuff “they” say about what happens after you turn 30. Je refuse! It’s winter’s fault, you guys.)
But the other day, we actually did have quite a bit of sunshine. Like, the kind that makes you wonder if you might be getting a tan as you drive toward home facing the western sky. And it happened that on that day, Danny’s parents were coming down for a visit to see us and the new house. And it also happened that my parents are quite fond of Danny’s parents, so it only made sense to gather everyone to bask in mutual admiration.
This all sounds great, right? Weekend brunch in the new house. So sweet. So cozy.
BUT WAIT. You see, we had only just ramped our grocery shopping back up to a point where we could cook a basic meal in the house with dignity. (Though I will confess we’re still not quite there. Cue frozen raviolis and jarred sauce last night. Deal with it.) Our kitchen was about 90% unpacked, so I was confident I could whip something up, but it still needed to be pretty low-key.
I’ve been doing a lot of pinning lately (aka using Pinterest in many of my spare moments… which I realize is only perpetuating the “crappy bits of leisure time confetti” I’m trying to minimize… oops), and though much of it is inspiration for the new house, I am never so focused on other endeavors that I stop thinking about food.
LOL. I just thought about whether I was even capable of not thinking about food. Then I laughed. To myself, on the train. Near strangers.
Anyhow, I had recently found a handful of recipes for baked eggs with various deliciousnesses baked along with them. And since everyone on social media is now apparently a food stylist, of course those dishes looked really f*ing cute and rustic and whatever, so I obviously had to try one out. Because, you know, it’s one thing to make something look pretty with pomegranate arils and offhanded strewings of dill flowers on metal saucers in a flood of daylight, but unless it tastes good, I have no use for it. (Wooden Spoon Society: vetting those recipes that look really good on the internet and delivering only the best ones to you, our frands.)
Because I had recently had a big important work meeting, and because after such stressful encounters it’s customary to make a visit to Bari Foods to buy all the things, we had recently acquired a full coil of their famous Barese sausage. You know – the stuff that makes your whole fridge and freezer smell like fresh garlic even after the sausage has been frozen for days. I had broken the coil up into separate packages so we could use a little at a time, and on Sunday it was pretty easily decided that this family brunch was a more-than-worthy occasion to break some out.
I also had a whole lot of eggs, as I was preparing to produce a bumper crop of lemon olive oil cakes as “oh hi we’re your new neighbors” gifts to the folks who live around us.
I also had a very large, aspiration-size container of baby kale. You know, for the smoothies we weren’t making yet.
So I was 90% of the way to a large-format peasant breakfast. Something not to-order, like the usual peasant breakfast (totally feasible for two; not feasible for seven), with thick toast under a messy, though glorious mound of greens, soft cheese, and a runny yolk; something I could make a lot of, not having to give my full attention to the stove while entertaining parents and parents-in-law. Enter baked eggs: similar equation as peasant breakfast – a green, a cheese, (a meat, for bonus points), and eggs – with about a quarter of the work.
On this particular day, it was garlicky barese sausage with sauteed kale and English cheddar, but I have since made this with chorizo/manchego/spinach, and lamb sausage/feta/chard. The options are limitless, and the recipe is also easily expandable/contractable depending on the number of people you’re feeding. (In fact, I recently made this on a weekend, knowing we’d have leftovers, and Danny and I high fived each other Monday and Tuesday mornings when we got to throw a fully dressed baked egg on top of a piece of toast for a bitchin’ weekday breakfast.) You can also make this pretty much ahead of time, by getting yourself through all the steps until cracking the eggs into the dish. Just get everything scattered in there, cover the dish, and refrigerate until you’re ready to party. That way, on the day of, it’s a foolproof breakfast you can make while you’re still half-drunk. (Yeah, I said that.)
I’m glad I’ve become super handy with this recipe; it’s a good one to have in the arsenal. In a few weeks, we will fulfill our lifetime dream of owning the sort of house where party guests who are just too tuckered out feel quite happy spending the night in a guest room/on a futon/on a couch/on an air mattress, and feel extra warm and fuzzy the next morning when greeted by coffee, baked eggs, and, well, a lot of water.
Get this (and notice it’s really just a general formula):
- a 9×13 baking dish (ceramic or glass are a little easier to clean, but metal’s not a dealbreaker)
- MEAT: 1 to 1.5 lbs sausage – any kind you like (seriously: chicken, pork, lamb, vegan field roast…)
- GREENS: 4 heaping cups of baby kale or other baby greens, or chopped grownup greens of any sort
- SMALL ALLIUM: 2 cloves garlic, 1 small onion, 1 large shallot, 1 leek, etc… minced
- CHEESE: 8 oz cheese – any kind you like (again, seriously: go crazy, there is no wrong cheese for this). Shred this to the best of your ability. If it’s a goopy cheese, put it in the freezer to get very firm, then you can cut it into small pieces
- EGGS: 1 dozen eggs
- 1/4 cup cream or half & half
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil (or more, depending on the fat content of your sausage), then add your sausage. Break it up into pieces a little bit smaller than bite-size. Cook until crisp on the outside and cooked through inside. Put the sausage in a small bowl and set aside.
Do not clean your pan. DON’T DO IT. Put it right back on the heat, add a little more oil if you need it, and then your garlic. Let the garlic just get warm – keep it moving around the pan – and add all the greens, except for a big handful. Set that aside for now. You may have to add the greens in shifts so you don’t have greens falling out of the pan (guilty as charged. I get excited!). Add salt & pepper to taste – and please do taste! Once the greens are just wilted, take the pan off the heat and let it sit.
Spray/oil your baking dish. Scatter the reserved uncooked greens on the bottom of the dish, then scatter the cooked sausage all around. After that, scatter your cooked greens & garlic all around. Then, make little wells in all that goodness to make room for the eggs. Spoon, clean finger, who cares. Carefully crack the eggs into the greens & sausage.
Splash the cream here & there, all around the pan. Salt the crowns of the eggs, and crack pepper all over. If you like spicy thangs, you can throw a little chili flake, aleppo pepper, or even cayenne over this.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs are set the way you like them. I tend to enjoy a runny yolk, but I know that is not for everyone. Since I tend to make these when we have a crowd, I will leave them until cooked all the way through – I promise you, it’s no less tasty.
On the off-chance you have leftovers, you should absolutely be throwing them on toast the next day, maybe with a little avocado smashed underneath.