Spicy Egg & Pancetta Bake


We have six chickens at our farmhouse in Umbria, and another seven this side of the pond so I am used to getting fresh eggs daily. There is nothing better than collecting eggs that have just been laid from your own chickens. These eggs taste better than store-bought eggs and knowing what you feed the chickens laying your eggs also means that you know that your eggs are very nutritious as well. It took our chickens here a little longer than expected to start producing eggs, but all but one is now laying which ensures we always have a ready supply of very fresh eggs! Having a constant egg bounty in my refrigerator encourages me to find new and tasty ways to prepare eggs, and this dish is one of my favorite quick lunch dishes that I make ofen.

Folks are often surprised to learn that Italians living in Italy do not eat eggs for breakfast. Eggs instead are enjoyed as light meals for lunch or dinner, but breakfast for most Italians is a cup of coffee, often containing milk like a cappuccino along with something sweet such as brioche, a few cookies, or a small breakfast sweet. I am not a breakfast eater myself, but I do enjoy traditional breakfast foods such as eggs and bacon; I just enjoy them for lunch or dinner. Having my own chickens also makes me very aware of where grocery store eggs come from. If I do not have my own eggs from our backyard chickens for whatever reason, I will only buy pasture-raised egg at the store. The term cage-free eggs is very deceptive as many of the chickens raised this way are still held in large buildings and never see the light of day. Regular eggs, the cheapest ones at the store come from chickens who spend most of their lives in cages. In all good conscience, loving my “girls” as much as I do, I could never buy these eggs. The pasture-raised chicken eggs may cost more, but they do taste much better and are even more nutritious!

This recipe is so easy, but for the best flavor, you should use canned tomatoes with the best taste. The only brands I buy are Pomi, Muti, or Muir Glen. All three of these canned tomato products taste delicious right from the can (or box in Pomi’s case) which is the sign of good tomatoes. If you find yourself adding tomato paste or even sugar (shudder) to improve the flavor of your canned tomatoes, it is time to switch! This is the basic recipe which uses a little chopped onion, pancetta, garlic, and fresh herbs to flavor the sauce. The eggs are then added right on top of the sauce and are baked just until the whites are cooked. You want the yolks a little runny, so do be careful not to overcook the eggs. The eggs do continue to cook a minute or two once they have been removed from the oven, so I always take them out when the eggs are just a little underdone. If you make the mistake of breaking the yolk when adding the eggs, just stir it into the sauce and add a new egg.

Although I love these eggs just as they, are served with a slice of crusty Italian bread, you can also change things up by adding in some chopped Kalamata olives, a teaspoon or two of capers, or even using some sausage meat removed from the casing in place of the pancetta. If you do not have pancetta, bacon will do just fine. Although this is one of my favorite quick lunch ideas, this dish would also be great served for breakfast on a lazy Sunday with the family, or even as a light dinner option.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2019

Spicy Egg & Pancetta Bake

Yield: Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Eggs cooked in this tasty tomato sauce are great served for lunch, brunch, or a light dinner entree.

Ingredients

  • 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Ounces Diced Pancetta
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes (See Notes Above)
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 4 Large Eggs At Room Temperature
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Romano Cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a heavy, ovenproof Skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pancetta and onion.
  3. Cook until the onions have softened and the pancetta is lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, an additional minute or two.
  5. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
  6. Stir well, and cook until bubbly, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Break the eggs into the sauce, spacing them out evenly.
  8. Place the skillet in the oven and bake just until the whites are set, about 15 to 16 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve immediately with slices of crusty, Italian bread.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 eggs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559 Total Fat: 47g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 28g Cholesterol: 423mg Sodium: 460mg Carbohydrates: 11g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 5g Protein: 23g