Fast Breakfast Option: Fried Eggs with Pancetta, Kale, and Pecorino

I’ve been skipping breakfast recently, but I got up unusually early a few days ago and wanted to eat something before I started working. I wanted something fast, tasty, and low carb, so I started scouring my fridge.

This is a delicious breakfast option that I usually have the ingredients in the fridge to make. It took me under 10 minutes from pulling out a skillet to sitting down to eat.

Fried Eggs with pancetta, kale, and pecorino

  • 1/3 pack of pancetta
  • 3 dinosaur kale leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • Butter
  • Pecorino
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Rip up the kale into small pieces. I use my hands for this. I quickly strip the leaves from the stem with my hand and then tear up the leaves directly into the pan.
  2. Crisp up the pancetta with the kale in the pan over medium high heat. Remove the pancetta and kale from the pan when the pancetta is crisp.
  3. Drop some butter in the pan, let it get hot and start to bubble, and then crack the two eggs in the pan and fry them for about a minute on each side (I like my eggs runny.)
  4. Dump the pancetta and kale back in the pan for a moment, and then plate everything, season it with salt and pepper, and grate some pecorino on top.

I know this isn’t a groundbreaking new dish. It is pretty simple and the flavors are a well-known combination: salty pork, a hearty green, savory eggs, and a nutty cheese. I write about these things to get ideas flowing. My hope is that even if you don’t have these specific items in your fridge, it sparks an idea of a quick, tasty breakfast that you can make with what you do have. Or, if you haven’t considered this combination of flavors before, “if you don’t know, now you know.

This breakfast is just a specific instance of something I do all the time: Throwing together quick meals from things I have in my pantry or fridge. These meals won’t win any awards or show up in cookbooks, but they are generally tasty, save time, and are practical.

One of the best things you can do for your cooking is break out of the rigid recipe mindset. Start thinking about recipes as flexible templates of interchangeable options. This lets you use what is on sale, what you have on hand, and what you like instead of following a recipe to a T.

That is what Cook Like Chuck is all about: What can I make with what I have?

Whole 30 Breakfast Bowls

During our Whole 30, one of our go-to breakfast options on weekends were bowls of delicious veggies, meat, and eggs. We usually only eat two big meals on weekend days, so this is larger and more filling than a breakfast we’d eat during the week. It fills us up and keeps us going until dinner.

The Basic Formula

Vegetable and/or Starch Base + Meat + Eggs + Avocado + Toppings. This simple formula yields a lot of variation:

  • Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, kale, cauliflower,  onions, peppers, and fresh beets all make great veggie bases for breakfast. We love buying some of each of these, chopping them up, and mixing them together. If you have a grating attachment for your food processor, that makes it easy. Also check if your grocery store sells these items pre-chopped. It might be just a little more expensive, but it makes healthy breakfasts a breeze. Sautee these items in your the skillet with a little olive oil for 5-10 minutes over medium high heat.
  • Starch: About half of our breakfast bowls have either sweet potatoes or regular potatoes in them. We either shred them with our mandolin, grate with the food processor attachment, or finely dice them before cooking them in the skillet with a little fat over medium high heat for 20 minutes. You can also roast them in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes if you prefer that.
  • Meat: Bacon or sausage. We chop it up finely, throw it in a skillet, and cook it until it is crispy. Make sure your bacon and sausage doesn’t have sugar if you want to stay Whole 30 compliant. Sometimes we use leftover carnitas, ham, or turkey. Use what you have!
  • Eggs: I like my eggs either soft-scrambled or fried. I use Gordon Ramsay’s scrambling method and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s frying method.
  • Avocado: We prefer Hass over Florida avocados.
  • Toppings: Toppings vary: Sprouts, homemade mayo, cheese (only if you aren’t doing a Whole 30!), radishes, cilantro, scallions, hot sauce, etc. Put on whatever you like!

Here are some examples of breakfast bowls we’ve consumed over the past month:


This is really just another variation on the weekend special, but it has been a go-to for us during and after our Whole 30. We even made it for dinner once.

Frittatas

You can make thousands of frittata recipes just by changing the fillings, but the base always remains the same: Eggs, veggies, and meat (if you are partial to that sort of thing; I am.) I’m going to give you a specific recipe for the frittata I made this morning, generalize a formula for making any frittata, then pull some suggestions out of my Instagram archives for good combinations.

Frittatas are great for brunch with your family or friends, but they are still worth making for 1-2 people. I like eating the leftovers for breakfast during the week like a cold pizza. Delicious.

Bacon, Potato, and Brussels Sprouts Frittata

Necessary Tools

  • Large (12-14in) non-stick skillet that is oven- and broiler-safe
  • Non-metal or coated spatula (so you don’t scratch your non-stick coating)
  • Knife and cutting board suitable for chopping
  • Stove with burners and an oven
  • Fine cheese grater (for grating the chunk of parmesan)
  • Oven mitt

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, cleaned and chopped if they are large
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6-8 eggs, whisked with an ounce of half & half or milk for fluffiness.
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start browning the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium high heat and add the cup of water to it. Cook down until the water is gone, stirring occasionally. Continue letting the bacon brown, stirring more frequently so it doesn’t burn, until it is crisped to your liking.
  2. You may need to pour off some of the bacon grease during this process. If you do, pour about 1/4 cup of it into a non-stick skillet. We will use this to fry the potatoes, brussels sprouts, and onions.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  4. Heat the excess bacon grease (or olive oil if you aren’t using bacon) over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick skillet that is oven safe. Choose the skillet wisely; the size of the skillet determines the size of the frittata. Carefully put the diced potatoes into the grease to start browning them. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning.
  5. As the potatoes are starting to turn golden brown (5-7 minutes), add in the brussels sprouts. The sprouts we had were tiny, so I didn’t bother chopping them. If you have larger sprouts, definitely chop them. Continue stirring occasionally.
  6. After the sprouts have been in for 5 minutes and are starting to get crisp on the sides, toss in the diced onion. Continue stirring occasionally.
  7. When the onions are starting to get soft (about 5 minutes), turn the heat down to medium.
  8. Pour in the whisked eggs & milk and stir everything to make sure the fillings are evenly distributed.
  9. Cook over medium heat until the sides start to pull away from the edges of the pan and start to bubble. Don’t stir, just let it set up. The center should still be runny.
  10. Take the whole pan and put it on the center rack in the oven for 10 minutes.
  11. After the 10 minutes are up, pull the pan out and grate the parmesan cheese and grind some black pepper over the top.
  12. Turn on the broiler, pop the pan (if it is broiler safe, i.e. your handles won’t melt) back in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts and crisps up the top. This takes 3-5 minutes. Watch it attentively so it doesn’t burn.
  13. Pull it out of the oven and let the pan cool on the stovetop for 5 minutes, then carefully release the frittata from the pan by working a non-metal spatula around the edges. The frittata should then easily slide out on the cutting board.
  14. Cut like a pizza and sprinkle each slice with a little sea salt and serve.

 

 

Basic Frittata Formula

Ingredients

  • Choose 1 meat, three vegetables, and 1 cheese. If you are a vegetarian or don’t want meat in it, that is okay. Make it to your tastes.
    • Crumbly cheeses like feta are good for mixing into the frittata. Hard cheeses are better for grating on top of it.
    • Veggies like spinach and cherry tomatoes should be mixed in with the eggs instead of cooked beforehand.
  • For a 1 inch thick frittata, use 6-8 eggs in a large pan or 4-5 eggs in a medium sized pan. If you want a thicker frittata, add more eggs. If you want a thinner one, use fewer eggs.
  • Salt and pepper are good general seasonings, but sometimes oregano, garlic, thyme, and others work well with your ingredients.

Instructions

  1. Cook and brown the meat you are using (if you are using it.)
  2. Clean and chop all of your veggies.
  3. Cook your veggies in stages so nothing gets overcooked. In my recipe above, you’ll notice that I cooked potatoes first, then added brussels sprouts, then added the onions so that by the time the onions were done, everything else was, too. If I had added the onions at the beginning, they would have burned by the time the potatoes were done.
  4. Whisk the eggs with an ounce of half & half or milk. The added liquid and protein makes the final product more fluffy. If you add salt, let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, stir so the ingredients are evenly distributed, then cook over medium heat until the sides start to pull away from the edges of the pan and start to bubble. Don’t stir, just let it set up. The center should still be runny.
  6. Take the whole pan and put it on the center rack in the oven for 10 minutes at 375F.
  7. Turn on the broiler for the 3-5 minutes to brown and crisp the top. If you want to grate cheese on it, do this before broiling. Watch it attentively so it doesn’t burn.
  8. Pull it out of the oven and let the pan cool on the stovetop for 5 minutes, then carefully release the frittata from the pan by working a non-metal spatula around the edges. The frittata should then easily slide out on the cutting board.
  9. Cut like a pizza and sprinkle each slice with a little sea salt and serve.

 

Ideas for good ingredients combinations

  • Ground turkey, spinach, broccoli, onions, and basil
  • Mushrooms, shallots, thyme, and soft cheese like camembert
  • Broccoli, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, and green onions
  • Spicy Italian sausage, brussels sprouts, jalapeños, and asiago cheese
  • Mexican chorizo, potatoes, and onions
  • Ham, kale, green peppers, and goat cheese
  • Ham, broccoli, and cheddar

 

Here are a few frittatas I pulled from my Instagram feed:

FrittataFrittata

Breakfast Skillets

Breakfast skillets are the “Weekend Special” here at the Grimmett Apartment. Simple and delicious.

Breakfast Skillet

  • 1/2 lb of bacon, chopped
  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the bacon and fry it in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove it from the skillet when it is crispy, but retain the grease. Put in the diced potatoes and start frying them in the bacon grease, still on medium high heat. Flip them over after 10 minutes, turn the heat down to medium, and add in the onion and hot pepper. Fry for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the bacon back in and sprinkle the paprika, salt, and pepper over the top. Turn the heat up to medium high again and cook for another 8 minutes to crisp everything up.

I like to eat this with soft soft-scrambled eggs, but it is great on its own, too. Wash it all down with a strong cup of black coffee.

Bacondiced potatoespeppers and onions

Variations include:

  • Sausage instead of bacon
  • Tossing in veggies you have left in the fridge that you don’t know what to do with
  • Leeks or green onions instead of regular onions
  • Adding kale
  • Adding cumin for an entirely different flavor

Breakfast Skillet

Corned Beef Hash

Corned beef hash is my favorite diner food. Some days though, you just want to hang out in the comfort of your apartment instead of trudging down to your local diner. You can probably make this brunch staple better at home, anyway. Let’s get started.

Corned Beef Hash

  • 1.5 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 4-5 potatoes, depending on size
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lb cooked corned beef, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the bacon fat in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (you can sub olive oil if you don’t have any). Wash and cut the potatoes into a small dice and add to the skillet. Leaving the skin on is fine. Fry until the potatoes are fairly brown (~15 minutes), then mix the diced onions, diced pepper, and chopped corned beef into the skillet. Season with the salt, paprika, and black pepper. Turn up to medium high heat and cook another 8-10 minutes, only flipping everything once with a spatula so that everything starts to get crispy.

Corned beef hash is best served with over-easy or slow-poached eggs, but is great by itself, too. Wash it down with some quality coffee and you are well on your way to a good day.

Most of the time I make this with leftover corned beef. I can’t think of a better way to use it. I’m particular to curing my own corned beef, which is much easier than you think. If you want to try curing it yourself, Michael Ruhlman’s recipe is the one I recommend. If you are using a store-bought corned beef, mix up a batch of Ruhlman’s pickling spice (also at that URL) to cook it in. Better spices make a world of difference.

All the fancy home curing aside, I’ve also been known to cook up a batch of hash with half of a leftover sandwich from Carnegie Deli. Use what you have on hand. That’s the Cook Like Chuck way.

Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet