For Jonathan’s birthday, I bought him something kind of corny. It was this little mini cast iron skillet that fits about one egg. I realize this is a completely impractical gift, especially for two people who consistently cook enough food to feed a restaurant at family meal, even though our meals are usually just for us and a few friends. But we saw this little skillet while window-shopping on New Year’s Day, and when Jon’s birthday came a week and a half later, I couldn’t help but go back and buy it for him. My excuse was that we could use it for BiteSized, because it was so cute and bitesized.
What would we cook in this tiny, impractical pan, we asked each other. All I wanted to cook was a grilled cheese, because grilled cheese has become about 70% of my diet now that the restaurant is open for lunch and we continuously have these grilled cheese scrapplings lying around. But Jon was intent on making baked eggs, even though I adamantly insisted how much I don’t like them. Baked eggs always seem to come out either really undercooked, with those runny whites that make my stomach turn, or just an overcooked, dried out mass in a pan. I’ve never really had them prepared well and sort of wrote them off as an egg preparation I don’t care to revisit.
But in our tiny little one-egg pan, Jon and I made a delicious and perfectly sized baked egg that was so pretty and warming, it was a delight to eat. We put crisped pancetta, sautéed spinach, tomatoes and manchego cheese in with our egg because those are our favorite omelette ingredients. We added some pickled cherry peppers for a little spicy crunchiness, and then we baked the egg in the broiler for just shy of 5 minutes. The egg came out beautifully cooked – set whites, runny yolk, and bubbling melted cheese. I was instantly converted and suggested that we purchase enough mini pans to host a baked egg brunch, to which Jon laughed at my going from one extreme to another, once again. I’ll at least buy another mini pan for me, so we can eat our baked eggs together for breakfast.
(Makes 2 baked eggs)
2 nice eggs
2 loosely packed cups of spinach
1/8 lb pancetta
Few small vine tomatoes, quartered
Manchego cheese, sliced
Cherry peppers, thinly sliced (we pickled ours, but you don’t have to)
Salt and pepper
Freshly picked thyme
- Dice the pancetta and render it in a pan with a little olive oil until crispy. Remove the pancetta and leave the fat.
- Turn the pan heat to high and add a bit more oil if needed. When the pan is hot and the oil is nearly smoking, toss in the spinach and sauté, constantly moving the greens around in the pan so that all the moisture is released and they are wilted. You want the pan really hot, so that the water evaporates immediately and the greens sauté. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the water will instead steam the greens and won’t create the same brilliant green color and seared in flavor.
- 3. In your small skillet, arrange the spinach and pancetta. Crack your egg in the middle on top of the greens and arrange your peppers and tomatoes around the edges of the yolk.
4. Shave manchego cheese over the top of your egg and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook egg under a raging hot broiler for no longer than 5 minutes, keep an eye on it to make sure you don’t overcook the yolk. Eat warm right out of the pan!
© 2012 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle