On the morning of Ellen's first day at the ranch, I took her down to the hen house to gather eggs.
This was a bit out of Ellen's realm; reaching under a laying hen to retrieve a warm, just-laid egg
was a far cry from reaching into the supermarket dairy case. I collected eggs from the nests amid
squawks and clucks, then we made our exit, thanking the girls on the way out. I often prepare this
dish for breakfast. It was inspired by a Creole recipe, but this frontier version is a bit less fiery.
Serves 6 to 8
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1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1 cup diced celery
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile
4 cups crushed tomatoes (canned is fine)
1 small bay leaf, crumbled
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
|Preheat the oven to 350°F. |
|Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion,
bell pepper, celery, and jalapeño; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned,
4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf; simmer until
the tomatoes have cooked down and most of the water has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
|Spread one half of the sauce on the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish or 2-quart baking dish.
Sprinkle 1 cup cheese on top. Ladle the rest of the tomato sauce over the cheese; top with the remaining
1 cup cheese. With the back of a spoon, make 8 depressions the size of
an egg; crack an egg into each well.
|Bake until the whites of the eggs are set and the yolks are still runny,
15 to 25 minutes (be sure to check them after 15 minutes).|