I’ve always struggled with breakfast; so many common breakfast foods are too sweet, too rich, too complicated, or too served-before-dawn for my taste. In middle school I went through a phase where the only thing I would eat for breakfast was sausage. Sausage. Nasty, greasy frozen sausage patties that nearly always contained a bite or two of gristle. (Gross, I know). I also went through a toaster strudel phase, a cheese phase (that’s American cheese to you — none of this brie or “goat” stuff), a frozen waffle phase, and a brief I-refuse-to-eat-anything-you’ve-suggested phase.
A few years ago I saw a photo that blew the lid off of any “perfect breakfast” I had ever encountered or imagined. It was too simple to impress anyone other than me, I’m afraid; just a couple of eggs cracked into a pan of some leftover tomato sauce, sprinkled with cheese and baked to perfection. It was a peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate kind of moment; the mere presence of an egg in tomatoes gets me every time.
Which is what made this simple dish jump off the page at me. The beauty of it is that it works equally well with standard vine-ripened tomatoes as it does with cherry tomatoes, so as the beefsteaks turn to cardboard (which they have around here) we can still enjoy this dish with sweet, caramelized cherry tomatoes until those, too, have left the market.
Cocotte, by the way, is French for prostitute… or a tiny, personal serving-sized Dutch oven. I’ll leave the choice of definition up to you.
Tomato and Chorizo Eggs Cocotte
Happily, the tomato-egg mixture can be prepared the day before. So if this is going to be breakfast, it should take less than 15 minutes to make. Full disclosure: we typically eat this for dinner. But I’d eat it all three meals if Vance would let me.
This recipe was adapted from Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus one additional tablespoon if using cherry tomatoes)
- ¼ pound Spanish semidry chorizo, casing removed (find this at specialty and natural foods stores, close to the proscuitto and other cured meats)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ½ fresh poblano chile (we’ve substituted a number of other chiles we had on hand, including a Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes (alternately, 4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced)
- Pinch of hot paprika
- Pinch of sugar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup grated monterey jack cheese
- 6 large fresh farm eggs
If using cherry tomatoes, preheat the oven to 375°. Slice the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet, cut side up, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they do not burn.
Leave the oven or preheat to 375°. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium saute pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and saute until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a small bowl and leave the oil in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, and saute until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the onion and chile and cook until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, and sugar and cook over low heat until very thick and the consistency of jam, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the sauteed chorizo.
Divide the tomato mixture equally among six 8-ounce ramekins (or cocottes, if you have them); top with the cheese. Break an egg into each of the ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are runny, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.