Life is a great teacher, and in my time thus far one of the things I’ve learned is there are some things you just don’t mess with. A mother bear with a cub, for example (and no, I didn’t learn that from Sarah Palin, it’s something you are indoctrinated with almost immediately upon moving to northern Minnesota). Or an irritated red squirrel (important life lesson: even adorable animals have teeth). Or Texas (I don’t actually know that one from experience, it’s just the word on the street). Or someone who has just woken up. I learned that last one by virtue of having a best friend while growing up who was a very determined late-sleeper. On weekends, come 1 or 2 in the afternoon her mother would start trying to wake her. After a half hour or so she would give up and call for reinforcements – that would be me. Now, in order to survive the charge of the (day)light brigade and live to be the alarm clock another day, I quickly learned a technique of whispering sweet wake-up songs in her ear and/or sitting on her head and then jumping back and doing my best to be very supportive but hands off while the newly awoken
volcano girl crankily adjusted to the general idea of being up.
Now, hand in hand with the understanding that you don’t mess with someone who has just woken up is the knowledge that you don’t mess with someone’s breakfast. Many of us simply don’t have the emotional coping mechanisms to deal with that. I’ve grown a lot more adventurous over the past few years, but I used to eat the same breakfast every. single. day. And so, I imagine that if, tomorrow morning come 6am, I tell you all “make these amazing chipotle pepper scrambled eggs for breakfast!!!!” about half of you will look at me with red loathing in your eyes while saying something like, “schnnerrrrummp blerrggh.” Which, in early morning speak, means “just give me my granola and yogurt and coffee NOW! Before I shove those eggs up your nose.” I’m hoping that the other half of you will be like, “booyah! Bring it on! I like a breakfast with a little heat.” But, to the first half of you I say, it’s okay. Deep breaths. It’s going to be alright. You can just make these eggs for lunch or dinner instead! But either way, you really should make them.
Chipotles are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked. This process mellows out much of the heat of the pepper and leaves it with a delicately smokey and earthy pungency and just a little heat. I keep dried chipotles around for things like chili, but I wouldn’t have thought to add them to eggs except that Ottolenghi has a recipe for smokey duck eggs in his book Plenty. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite awesome enough to have ready access to duck eggs, but I love some regular chicken eggs scrambled for breakfast, so I thought I’d give suffusing them with a little Latin American flavor a try. I chopped and caramelized some onions first which adds a sweetness that offsets the warm smokey pepper notes that just whisper through the creamy eggs (even if you don’t like smokey flavor you should consider giving this a try. The smoke is more of a hint than a commanding presence). And, although they’re not in season yet here, I couldn’t resist buying some lovely cherry tomatoes the other day, so I added a handful of those as well. They shone like jewels in the scramble and mingled as a perky brightness with the other mellower flavors. But, if you wanted to use some chopped winter greens (kale, or chard for example) instead, I’m sure these eggs would welcome them with open arms. Unlike someone you just woke up (unless, perhaps, you appease them with some freshly made breakfast).
Chipotle scrambled eggs and toast (serves 2)
- 1 dried chipotle pepper
- 1 Tbs. butter or oil
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 eggs
- 3 Tbs. milk or cream
- 1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 pieces of good sourdough or multigrain bread, or a couple of bagels
- Put the chipotle in a small bowl and cover it with boiling hot water. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, then take it out of the water. Cut it in half and remove the seeds if you want very little spiciness or leave the seeds if you’d like a little more heat. Chop it up.
- Heat your butter or oil in a medium frying pan (nonstick works best for scrambling eggs) over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, whisk your eggs with the milk and salt and set to the side.
- Stir the chipotle and the cherry peppers in with the onion and cook for about 2 more minutes. Put your bread in to toast. Then, turn the heat to medium low and pour the eggs over the vegetables. Stir, making sure to scrape up the cooked eggs from the bottom, for a couple of minutes until the eggs look just set and still a bit moist. Remove from the heat (the eggs will finish cooking from the heat already in them). Put your toast onto 2 plates then scoop the eggs onto the toast (or put it on the side if you prefer to have more control over your toast to egg proportions while you’re eating). Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. If you wish you could also sprinkle on some grated mozzarella or crumbled feta, but it doesn’t even need it. Pour yourselves some coffee or tea and enjoy.