There’s a legend in culinary lore that says the hundred folds in a chef’s toque (you know, those tall, paper hats you sometimes see) represent the number of ways the chef knows how to cook an egg. I don’t know if I could name a hundred ways, and I don’t really need to, because I already have my favorite: baked. Baking eggs is something many cooks don’t always think about doing at home, but it’s one of the easiest (and most elegant) ways to cook an egg. No flipping, no scrambling, no muss, no fuss.
The other wonderful thing about baked eggs is that they’re pretty much a blank canvas. You can sauce ‘em, add chopped (cooked!) vegetables to them, sprinkle herbs or cheese on top. This past weekend, I whipped up a quick brunch for Joe and I using ingredients we had on hand (including the sausage from the Lentil and Sausage Stew). Joe’s recently gotten back into his workout routine, and with that comes an effort to eat healthier — and often paleo. I don’t always follow it with him, but this dish comes pretty close, and with a few substitutes, could be completely paleo if you wanted.
Paleo or not though, we both agreed these baked eggs were restaurant level. Flippin delicious. And totally worthy of a notch in a chef’s toque. Here’s how to make it:
Baked Eggs with Crumbled Sausage, Roasted Tomatoes, Kale, and Herbs
Easily serves two as a hearty brunch meal
– extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed, but left whole
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large link spicy Italian sauce, casing removed
2 tbsp butter, melted
6 eggs, the best quality you can get
1 small sprig rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
3 scallions, roots removed, and chopped
a few leaves (maybe 3) of lacinato kale, shredded
parmesan cheese, to garnish
– kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 375°.
In a small baking dish, combine a few tablespoons of the olive oil, the tomatoes, and the shallot. Season well with salt and pepper, then using your hands, toss to combine until the tomatoes are well coated in oil and seasoning. Place the dish in the oven, so the veggies can roast. These will roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst, and the shallots are very soft from cooking in the released tomato juice and oil. You can let these roast while you prep the other elements of the dish. If they finish before you’re ready to complete the dish, just remove them from the oven and set aside.
In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Add in the sausage, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the pieces. Brown on all sides. Once it’s cooked through, turn the heat off, and set the skillet aside until you’re ready to bake the eggs.
Using two gratin dishes (I used oval ones like this, but these round ones are a great option too), add a tablespoon of butter to each, and spread the butter around the base and sides of the dish until it’s well coated. Crack three eggs into each dish. Using your hands or tongs, carefully sprinkle pieces of the sausage around the eggs, being careful not to let them land on the yolks (you don’t want them to break, plus seeing the yolks once the dish has baked makes it look pretty!). Repeat with the other ingredients: the tomatoes, the shallots, the scallions, the kale, and the rosemary. You can pour off any of the accumulated tomato juice into each dish too (it tastes delicious!). Season each dish with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
Bake for around 10 minutes, or until the eggs have set to your desired doneness. You can tell how set the eggs are by gently jiggling each dish; if the yolks don’t jiggle, they’re starting to set! When each dish is fresh out of the oven, garnish with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and serve.
If you’re making it paleo: you can substitute butter for any other paleo friendly oil, and be sure to use a nitrate free sausage. Skip the cheese, unless you like to live dangerously.