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?

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