Something I’m trying to do as we head into winter is to make brunch at home once or twice a month, in part to switch things up, but also as a way to cook in natural light when the sun sets at 5 PM every day. This doesn’t mean that we will always make something brunch-like (some meals will likely be more lunch-like or even dinner-adjacent, depending on what we’re in the mood for), but I’m also seeing this as an excuse to try some of the breakfast dishes I’ve flagged in more recent cookbook acquisitions.
(Related: I love this more recent trend of cookbooks featuring breakfast and brunch dishes. I hope this isn’t a passing fad!)
This dish from Gail Simmons is something I had been eyeing ever since I received Bringing it Home last year, because I enjoy a good Bloody Mary now and again and the idea of a sauce that brings those flavors together is highly, highly appealing to me. The added bonus of combining a warm, runny yolk into a complex sauce basically sealed the deal for me. And I love how this was a dish she created for a show that didn’t last very long, but her co-host Marcus Samuelsson liked it so much that he added it to the brunch menu at Red Rooster in Harlem.
Truthfully, this could make for an excellent dinner as well as a leisurely brunch, but there’s something so right about diving into a plate of poached eggs, sourdough toast, and spicy sauce following a Sunday morning workout—my normal routine is to deadlift on Sundays and then take a shower and get ready for whatever activity we’re planning on doing, and whether we’re walking around town or spending an hour or so making food, the feeling of sitting down for a while after either one feels SO GOOD and any food you happen to eat feels even more deserved.
What I really dig about this dish is that while it’s delectable and comforting, it’s not a dish that’s going to put you in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes you want a dish that will do exactly that, but if you’re cooking at home and you want at least the pretense of being able to do other things during the afternoon that don’t involve collapsing on your couch and watch movies nonstop, it’s a fantastic option.
We haven’t figured out our final plans for New Year’s just yet—we’re likely not doing a full-fledged party, but we’re having some friends over so that might make for some more interesting possibilities—but I’m kind of leaning towards making this for New Year’s Day since Dinosaur closed last year. Or maybe we’ll find someplace local that is offering brunch and bottomless mimosas, because why not?
Bloody Mary Eggs
Lightly adapted from Bringing it Home by Gail Simmons
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained well
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped (mine some celery leaves from the heart for garnish)
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (even when I have recipes, I never halve garlic cloves)
- Celery and/or kosher salt (I used hand-ground celery seed combined with salt as I did not have the former. The next time I make this I want to make it with celery bitters.)
- 3 tablespoons vodka
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (our preferred brand is ABC, but Tabasco works well too)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly prepared horseradish plus one additional ½ teaspoon prepared horseradish (i.e. grated and then hit with white vinegar)
- ¼ cup pimento-stuffed olives (go to the antipasto bar to get the best possible ones!)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 slices rustic bread—if you can get a small sourdough loaf that would be perfect for two people!
Make the sauce: with clean hands, gently crush the tomatoes into a medium-sized bowl. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook for about 7 minutes or until softened. Add in a ¼ teaspoon of celery salt or kosher salt and the vodka, and let it cook down until the liquid evaporates by half, which should take about 7 minutes. You’ll then want to add the tomatoes, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and a hefty pinch of black pepper, and the 1 ½ tablespoons of the horseradish. Let this simmer gently, giving the pan a stir occasionally, for about 20 to 22 minutes until the sauce thickens. If you really like olives, add them after the simmer; add them as a garnish later. Add in the remaining horseradish, and taste and adjust any seasoning as needed.
While the sauce simmers, bring a medium saucepan to boil and then reduce it to simmer. Break one of the eggs into a ramekin or shallow bowl. Using a chopstick or knife, create a counter-clockwise whirlpool in the water, and then add the egg. Gently stir it to keep from sticking to the bottom, and let it poach for about two and a half to three minutes (depending on your preferred level of doneness). Remove with a slotted spoon, and then pat dry gently and remove to a plate, seasoning with celery salt and pepper. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 eggs. (If you like your yolks firmer, cook them for longer. I love a barely-set white.)
Place the sourdough slices on a baking sheet and broil for about 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and delicious. Remove before burned, ideally.
To plate: Divide the sauce between two shallow bowls, and then add the toast to it. Place the eggs on top, and garnish with celery leaves and some additional olive oil (if desired) and serve immediately.