Of all the savory breakfasts in my book Dining In, this one is deﬁnitely the heartiest and most time consuming. Even so, it’s still a basic one-skillet deal. It’s also the one dish I am most likely to eat for lunch or dinner, with or without eggs, because I ﬁnd chickpeas simmered with dried chorizo and fresh tomatoes to be one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Baked eggs can be tricky to get right, mostly because you’re asking a lot of the egg, for the white to be totally cooked before the yolk turns hard and opaque, all with a serious lack of supervision as it goes into the oven. I ﬁnd baking eggs in just tomato sauce, à la shakshuka, to be even more difficult since the white tends to sink into the sauce, never to be heard from again, so it’s hard to tell if they’ve cooked through. At least here, propped up on little mountains of chickpeas and chorizo, the whites stand a chance of getting visibly cooked, taking a lot of the guesswork out of things.
[Ed. note: hear Alison Roman talk more about her favorite savory breakfast dishes in an interview with Melissa Clark.]
Dining In by Alison Roman
1. Place an oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo, onion, and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every so often, until the chorizo has rendered some of that ﬁery orange fat and the onions are softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have totally softened and released their juices, 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the chickpeas in everything, using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to crush them lightly (you don’t want to mash them, just break them up a bit). Add 1/4 cup water and let everything simmer together, further crushing those chickpeas if they need it, until the liquid has reduced by half and all the ﬂavors are mingling, 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, make four little evenly spaced nests in the skillet of chickpeas. Crack the eggs into the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Place the skillet on the top rack in the oven and bake until the whites of the eggs are just set and the egg yolks are still runny, 5 to 7 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and parsley. Serve with labne, if you like.
Spicy, Herby Bread Crumbs
Makes 2 cups
Sometimes those long-braised pots of meat or almost-too-tender stews need not only a little texture but also a little herby freshness and maybe a bit of heat—enter Spicy, Herby Bread Crumbs, which do both wonderfully. Parsley is used as a lion’s share of the herbage here, adding most of the freshness and a vibrant green color, but for extra flavor, feel free to mix it up, depending on what you’re making. Finishing roasted spring vegetables? Go tarragon. Looking for something to sprinkle onto a bowl of beef stew? Maybe choose thyme.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and Aleppo pepper and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring pretty frequently, until the bread crumbs are a deep golden brown (think graham crackers) and crisped, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and other herbs. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool before using.
DO AHEAD: These bread crumbs can be made 5 days ahead without the herbs and refrigerated. Rewarm them in a skillet, then stir in the parsley and other herbs before using.
Fresh Bread Crumbs
There are plenty of things out there that call themselves “bread crumbs,” but often what you’re purchasing resembles the sawdust on a dive bar floor more than anything that came from a crusty loaf of bread. More powder than crumb, they are hardly deserving of the name.
Proper bread crumbs do not get soggy and turn to mush when doused with olive oil or melted butter (and you must douse them). When toasted or browned, they offer rich, dimensional texture with mind-blowing crunch. Think of the perfect bread crumb size as very, very small croutons. Now, doesn’t that sound delightful? Sure does.
The good news about the impending hassle of dragging your food processor out to make these is that it’s literally the most complicated part of the whole ordeal. Make a large batch, store them in ziplock bags, and freeze them until the next time you’re in need (they’ll keep up to a month if well sealed).
Start with a loaf (or two) of some delicious-looking crusty bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta—even baguettes work. I prefer using fresh bread, since it’s softer and easier to break down in the food processor, but day-old or just-stale bread works, too.
Cut the bread into 1- to 2-inch cubes (I leave the crust on, unless the crust is very dark). Fill the food processor about halfway with the bread cubes and pulse until you’ve got really small, tiny pieces of bread (future bread crumbs!). Pick out any large pieces that didn’t quite get the memo to break down and place your bread crumbs in a bowl if you’re using them right away or in a large ziplock bag to freeze them plain for later use (like for the trout on page 191). Repeat until you’ve used all the bread.
These bread crumbs are called “fresh” because they are not dried. Fresh bread is porous and spongelike, primed to absorb fat in a way that dry bread crumbs cannot, and if they aren’t absorbing the fat, what’s the point? (Yes, sometimes fresh bread crumbs get toasted, but those are a different thing than “dried” bread crumbs, which are just fresh bread crumbs that are left out to dry.)
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Reprinted from Dining In. Copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.