The mother of all cast iron breakfast successes!
We’ve been spending a lot of time in the greenhouse this month preparing for our summer crop. There are a few vegetables we like to grow year round and swiss chard is one of them. Sweet, tender, and rainbow colored – just the vegetable to get us in the mood for sunny weather.
This weekend we’ll be making one of our favorite egg dishes in one of our favorite pans (our cast iron).
Now I know we’ve waxed poetic about the cast iron in the past and rightfully so! We are serial dirty dish makers here on the farm and tiny farmhouse kitchens just aren’t made for that kind of abuse day in and day out. Enter this one pan wonder, everyone including Mom will be thankful for this mess-less feast! It tastes great, uses EF ingredients and will have everyone convinced you TOTALLY used to whip this up every Sunday morning during your recent “year for creativity” in Provence when you rode your bike to le marché agricole down the street for fresh baguettes and eggs. Don’t worry, oui won’t tell anyone.
You may notice in this recipe that the amount of swiss chard seems high. Before it’s cooked, its going to look to be about 7-8 cups worth but by the time it cooked down its almost 25% of it’s original size. Because of this, we add the chard in stages, let the leaves wilt a little before we add anymore. Otherwise, this mess-less recipe becomes a battle for pan space and you may end up loosing some over the edge.
Also important, gather your ingredients and prep them before you start the cooking process. It move relatively fast and needs care and attention. If you are chopping and grating things on the side you may miss a beat and no one likes burnt chard.
Note: If you don’t use EF swiss chard we can’t guarantee the success of this recipe! Not to be biased at all, but the swiss chard you find in the store is usually a little older, stalkier, and thicker. If you don’t get the chance to grab some of ours, extend the pan cooking times and if necessary, add a tablespoon of water when you add the chopped chard to help soften it up a bit.
Oh-So-Chic Chard and Eggs
4 bunches Erdenheim Farm Rainbow Swiss Chard, stems removed and diced, top leaves roughly chopped
half of an onion, thinly sliced
6 pieces of thick cut bacon, chopped into 1 inch strips
1 whole clove of garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of your knife
6 EF brown eggs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (get the good stuff, you deserve it)
baguette or tuscan bread, sliced
olive oil, salt, pepper
1) preheat oven to 450 degress.
2) place your favorite cast iron over medium heat and add a “swirl” of olive oil (probably about 2 tablespoons but if you eyeball it you’ll look more professional). Add bacon and garlic to the pan and let the bacon render out. As it starts to get slightly browned, add your onions and swiss chard stems. You should be constantly stirring this around with a wooden spoon to be sure nothing burns.
3) Once your onions are soft and the pan smells fantastic, remove your garlic clove and throw out. Add a third of your chopped swiss chard leaves. Move around the pan and mix with the onion mixture so everything is cooked evenly. Once the leaves wilt, add another third. Once these wilt, add the remaining third. This whole time you will be stirring and making sure everything is cooking evenly. Chard is made of mainly water so you will see liquid escaping and cooking on the boot of the pan, this is good – it helps steam the leaves and makes them soft.
4) Once chard leaves are soft and tender (after about 5-10 minutes) season your pan with salt and pepper. The best way to tell if your chard is ready and seasoned is to eat it. If it chews nicely and isn’t stringy or tough, you are ready. It will resemble lightly sautéed spinach. A lot of the liquid will be gone from the pan.
5) remove pan from heat and scrape all of the chard mixture into a bowl. To the hot pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or butter if you are feeling French). Lay slices of bread on the bottom of the pan and then spread the warm swiss chard mixture back over top of the slices.
6) at this point you can decide whether you like the rustic look of our dish or if you would prefer more symmetry. If you are boho and free as the wind just crack your eggs anywhere over the top of the chard. If you like to have fun but prefer a little structure, you can use a spoon and make divots in the top of the chard covering for the whole eggs to perfectly lay.
Important! sprinkle a little sea salt over each yolk, bland yolks can ruin a day. Now’s the time to nicely call up to Mom that it’s a beautiful morning and breakfast will be ready in 15 minutes.
7) Place whole pan into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Each oven is different, so keep the light on and keep checking your eggs. You want the whites to set and the yolks to be slightly runny. It achieve this, you actually need to remove the pan from the oven JUST before the last white sets completely. This pan is hot, and it will continue to cook your eggs even outside of the oven. If you wait until they are perfectly cooked inside the oven, the yolks will be hard by the time they make it to the table, or tray if you’re doing breakfast in bed.
8) Let the pan rest for about 3 minutes and then dig in!
The bread on the bottom of the pan will have crisped up on the bottom like toast and soaked up some of the swiss chard jus on the top like a strata. The chard and bacon that peeks our over the egg whites will also have a nice crisp edge to it.
Happy Brunching, Everyone!