The days are getting longer, the weekends are getting warmer, and ’tis the season to have friends round for brunch with a bottle of ‘Bolly’, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la…
As much as it’s a pleasure to have guests for a weekend brunch party, the last thing I feel like doing on a leisurely Sunday morning is preparing something finicky that uses plenty of bowls and pans that only equate to washing up: I want to be out there enjoying a cheeky mid-morning flute of fizz with everyone else!
The problem, to this point, has been that breakfast is not traditionally the sort of thing that can be made in advance – the breakfast foods I tend to love require a little more attention and hovering over a simmering pan.
Enter, my Breakfast Tray Bake!
I had the idea for an oven-baked breakfast, a twist on my Breakfast Hash recipe, when we had friends over for a Grown Up’s Christmas Pageant Viewing Party (no need to explain that, just a group of thirty-and-forty-somethings watching the Pageant on television drinking champagne before 10am, keep your judgements to yourself, please). My sautee pan can make the Hash for 4 eggs quite comfortably, but what if you need to do 6 or 8 or more eggs? And what if you don’t want to have multiple pans on the go at once? What if you’d rather just bung it all in the oven with just a few little check-ups between sips of prosecco?
Essentially, I have converted the Hash recipe for oven-friendliness, the only downside being the baking time is longer than that of the stovetop version. However, you can have most of the tray bake done before your guests arrive and pop the eggs in at the last 7 minutes before serving. Also, oven baking means you can add sausages or chorizo to really fill out the meal-in-a-tray even further. The potatoes negate the need for toasted bread, though I won’t judge you if you see this as a necessity. If you opt for a gluten free sausage, you’ll also please your gluten free friends!
Like all good tray bakes, this is largely set and forget, and is best served at the table with multiple scoops for guests to serve themselves.
And the best thing about this recipe? It comes Mum-and-Dad Approved!
BREAKFAST TRAY BAKE
Serves 4 (two eggs per person) to 8 (one egg per person)
I find it best to make this using two shallow baking trays, and then transfer the roasted ingredients to one pan before adding the eggs in the final stage.
- 8 free range eggs
- 1kg (about 4 – 6 large ) potatoes, unpeeled, diced roughy into 1.5cm cubes
- 12 pork chipolatas, or 6 Italian pork and fennel sausages (halved), or for a spicy option, 750g chorizo, cubed
- 12 slices rindless shortcut bacon, roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and pressed with the back of a knife
- 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 3/4 cup pecorino cheese (or qb), finely grated
- Salt and pepper (qb)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200C (fan forced)
- Divide potatoes, garlic, chipolatas, bacon and rosemary between two shallow baking trays or roasting tins. You want a tray that is around 2cm deep to keep all the ingredients inside.
- Season well with salt and pepper then drizzle with enough oil to evenly coat the ingredients. Toss with your hands to coat well then spread out evenly across each pan. Give another drizzle with oil.
- Put both trays in the oven and bake for one hour, swapping the top tray with the bottom tray after half an hour; as you do, toss the contents of the trays basting with any juices.
- Remove the trays and transfer the contents of one tray into the other tray. Give everything a quick mix to evenly distribute potatoes, sausages and bacon.
- Use a spoon or fork to create 8 wells in the potatoes to make room for the eggs. At this stage, if you think you need more colour on the potatoes, pop the tray back in the oven for a few more minutes, or switch on the grill to help get a little more colour. Or, if you are ready, crack an egg into each well on the tray then sprinkle over half the pecorino.
- Return the tray to the oven for 7 minutes for soft baked eggs.
- Sprinkle over the remaining pecorino, the chopped spring onions, and then top with the rocket leaves. Give a light drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately, at the table, with a few serving utensils for guests to serve themselves.