Robert P. Tristram Coffin waxes great poetics on the virtues and beauty of a good, old British Breakfast. After finishing the last paragraph, it’s impossible not to want to go eat everything he describes. My particular favourite is his talk of tomatoes-and-bacon. It got me salivating for over a month, and I finally decided to make it on Saturday morning.
Your bacon should be cut fairly thick, and it should have a nice balance of lean and fat, such as British bacon has naturally. You fry it, and then when it is all of a sizzle and half done, put into its seething juice small, half-ripe tomatoes, halved, and fry them along with the meat. Stir the bacon and the tomato halves often and baste the skins of the tomatoes with the hot fat. The flavors of smoked pig and tomatoes marry. They become a new flavor under the sun. You turn the rich united sauce upon slices of toast and serve piping hot. The man who gets up from this transplanted British breakfast of mine is a man who could never maltreat his aunts or do any other mean-spirited act.
The sauce is exactly as he describes. It’s definitely a heavy thing and settles right down into your stomach. It gets even more filling when you put it into your baked eggs. The result is just exceptional. Topped with a bit of Harvarti cheese and seasoned with basil, it’s like eating a lasagne without any of the noodles.
Baked eggs, also shirred eggs, are similar to oeuf cocottes; they might be one of the same, except that oeuf cocottes can sometimes be baked in a bain de marie to produce a silkier texture. You fill a ramekins or a shallow dish with whatever you like, it can be the tomatoes-and-bacon sauce or some slivers of ham or prosciutto with cooked spinach maybe, and then pour in a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche followed by your eggs. Pop them in a preheated oven at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes and eat while still warm! Obviously, depending on how runny or firm you like your eggs, the time will vary and as will the temperature.