My second most favourite way to eat eggs would have to be poached. Runny on the inside with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the rich golden fattiness of the yolks yet without the greasiness that comes with fried eggs. My most favourite way to eat eggs is probably in a creme caramel or a monstrous cake of some description, but that doesn’t really count. Sometimes I feel like something different. Breakfast with a twist. I read somewhere that people look for familiarity feigning difference. Here’s looking at you Porsche owners. These baked eggs ooze out the same golden yolk you are wont to mopping up on Sunday morning, but provide you with more. Paprika makes its smokey presence known and plays well with the freshness of the parsley. You’ll need extra bread for this one to eat up all of the tomatoey goodness that the eggs are baked in. It’s simple too. You cook it in/eat it out of the one pan. Simple. And you can play around with the base. Like anchovies? Fry some with the garlic at the beginning. Craving swine? Dice up your favourite cured sausage (I like a hot cacciatori) and submerge the pieces before you bake it. Unless you have multiple skillets, you’ll have to be prepared to share. I’ll readily admit I’m a bit of a bear when it comes to sharing food off the one plate. Just look at it like a bonding session with your lucky guest. So what if they got an extra piece of bread. They got the good eggs? They’re your guest(s); they’re supposed to. How old are you? Twelve? You’re not going to die, just chill.
Baked Eggs (for two)
2+ teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
olive oil for frying
salt to taste
1 decent sized clove of garlic, sliced
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
half a small cured sausage, diced (optional)
flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (a small handful for the base + extra for garnish)
coriander, same as the parsley
2 ripe tomatoes, diced + 1 tin of tomatoes including juice
lots of crusty bread, perhaps double what you’d have with poached eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Heat olive oil in a heavy, oven proof skillet on medium heat and fry the garlic until soft and fragrant. If using anchovies put them in with the garlic and mash them to a paste as they fry.
2. Throw in the paprika and cumin and stir constantly for about 1 minute to draw the flavours out.
3. Coat the diced fresh tomatoes in the garlic-anchovy-spice paste and fry until the skins shrivel and the liquid starts releasing. Try to mash them up as they cook.
4. Pour the entire contents of the tin of tomatoes into the skillet along with the parsley and coriander. Keep mashing those tomatoes. You don’t want a uniform sauce, but you also want to minimise the need for cutlery. Let it simmer for 5 minutes or so, taste it and season it with salt if you feel it needs it.
5. Try to make wells for the eggs to go in, though don’t freak out if it isn’t happening. Crack the eggs evenly spaced into the warm sauce (if you’re using sausage, push the pieces into the sauce around the eggs) and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. You should probably check these as they are baking. Test by gently prodding the tops of the eggs, when the whites are mostly set pull it out of the oven as the eggs with continue to cook in the residual warmth.
Garnish with the remaining parsley and coriander. Eat out of the pan on the front steps with company. A fork in one hand and a piece of buttered bread in the other.