Recipe: Ham, Cheddar & Chive Egg Bakes
Cooking while traveling can be a tough endeavor. You lose most of the control you usually have at home: who knows how the oven will work, who knows where the local grocery store is… and on. And on. These egg bakes are a good solution to a healthy, delicious breakfast while traveling. The ingredients are basic and easy to track down, and they’re infinitely adaptable so you can toss in a little of whatever vegetables or cheese you have on hand.
One of the reasons I love this recipe is that it’s essentially a cheater’s soufflé. I don’t often make real soufflés at home because they always feel a bit fussy to me. There’s the proper beating technique and incorporating just the right amount of air — and then the risk of the whole thing falling in on itself. But with this cheater’s recipe, the eggs puff up in the oven and become light and fluffy, giving them many of the characteristics I love about a soufflé without much work.
When traveling, it’s generally easy to come upon eggs, milk and some good melting cheese. For these egg bakes, I used a pretty standard recipe and a chopped ham steak from the store. The chives are in season now in Seattle, but obviously you could leave them out altogether if need be and use dried herbs instead. I’ve tried this recipe with leeks and corn instead of the ham and it’s a wonderful vegetarian option. Obviously while on the road, ramekins aren’t as easy to come by. But when staying with friends — as many of us are likely to do— this is a great go-to breakfast to make for hosts and visitors. They’ll appreciate the gesture; you’ll appreciate the simplicity.
In short: this is a simple, delicious, and pretty breakfast that looks more time-consuming than it really is, and it’s easy to bake up if you’re at home — or visiting friends on the road.
- 2 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup
diced yellow onion (from 1/2 medium onion)
garlic cloves, minced
- 4 ounces
cooked ham steak, coarsely diced into small cubes (about 1 cup)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons
butter, to grease ramekins
- 3/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon
fresh chopped basil, optional
- 3 tablespoons
fresh chopped chives
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 3/4 cup
grated cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, taking care not to let it brown or burn. Fold the chopped ham into the saucepan and stir to combine.
Thoroughly butter six 8-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet so they’ll be easier to move to and from the oven.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, herbs and salt. Fold the cooked onion mixture, chopped ham, and cheese into the mixture. Divide the mixture evenly into the ramekins. The cheese sometimes clumps up, so try to be sure it’s evenly distributed.
Place in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops are golden and have puffed slightly. Enjoy warm; cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.
The basil is optional here; we had some in the garden that I chopped and used but I'd hate for you to buy a whole package just for a tablespoon in this recipe. The chives are the important part; the basil's an added bonus.
If you don't have access to ramekins, feel free to make these in full-size muffin tins instead. Just be sure to grease the pan adequately so they don't stick.
(Images: Megan Gordon)