A delicious exercise in resisting the allure of restaurant brunch

My husband and I had a list of things we needed to get done last Sunday — a fairly long list too. Usually, since it’s our only day off together, our Sundays are full of complete and utter laziness. Many of them start with us deciding to go out to brunch, which, I have finally discovered, is why we never manage to get anything done. People might say breakfast is the most important meal of the day but, believe me, brunch is nothing but a sneaky productivity killer.

First, it always takes forever. This is not an insult to the restaurants we frequent, I’m sure the staff is doing all they can to hurry things up. It just seems that whenever we think brunch will only take a little while, it’s a minimum of three hours before we get back home. Sometimes there is a long wait to get seated or maybe the kitchen staff is in the weeds, but more often than not, the worst time-sucking culprit is the brunch cocktail. You have a couple Bloody Marys while waiting for your eggs to arrive. Then once you’re done eating, wandering aimlessly around Target sounds way better than going home to do chores. I’m beginning to think my husband knows this too. Just as he knows my weakness for a good breakfast-approved cocktail.

So this Sunday when he looked at our to-do list and suggested we start by going out to brunch, I was wise to his tricks. Luckily I had a recipe for Baked Eggs with Bacon and Spinach picked out and ready to go. While it looks pretty enough to make up for staying home instead of going out, I made sure it was simple enough that my lazy Sunday morning was not totally ruined by ambition.

Now right off the bat I had to change things up. I didn’t really mean to, but I realized belatedly that we were out of spinach. We did, however, have a bunch of kale looking for a good home. So the night before I blanched it until it was just tender, then gave it a quick sauté with onions and garlic for added flavor.

The next morning, I started by cooking the meat. I had some lovely pepper bacon from Nueskes in Wisconsin. But, of course, I didn’t quite have enough for both of us, so I threw in a couple of breakfast sausages too. Lately I have been dreaming about breakfast sausages. This seemed like a great time to make my dreams come true.

While the meat was cooking, I toasted some bread for the base layer. The recipe calls for a whole wheat English muffin but (are you sensing a trend here?) I didn’t have any. However I did have some scraps of brioche left over from an event my husband did earlier in the week. It worked perfectly since they were already cut into strips, and brioche is way more fun than an English muffin.

Next I went searching for a couple of nice-sized ramekins for us to use. Most of ours are fairly small and I wanted this breakfast to be filling enough to keep us satiated through our chores. I remembered my little Le Creuset French onion soup bowls that don’t get used as much as I wish they would. They were the perfect size and added a little flair to the presentation.

The final step was layering — first the bread, then the roughly chopped meat (with a small tab of butter too, just because) and then the kale. Make a small well in the greens and drop in one egg and a dash of cream. It also worked just fine with milk if you forgot to buy cream. Ahem.

Top the eggs with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then pop the whole shebang in the oven. Wait about ten minutes or so, but be careful not to overcook the eggs. The liquidy yolk is basically the sauce for this dish. Without that moisture, it might be a little dry.

While the eggs bake, your time is best spent making a cocktail. Sure, you’re not out on the town at some fancy brunch spot, but dammit, it’s the weekend and you deserve a pre-noon drink. I won’t tell anyone. I promise.

Then, after a bit, check the oven. Your egg should go from this…

…to this…

A little Parmesan cheese grated on top and a smattering of brioche bread crumbs makes this an easy dish worth staying home for. And our chore day was successful! We were so productive I even got to take a nap — which is a serious accomplishment in my book.

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