Skillet-Baked Eggs in Tomato Gravy with Spinach

This recipe for tomato gravy is the kind of old-fashioned country cooking most commonly found in Appalachia. Typically, it would be served solo atop biscuits, but it seemed to be an open invitation for an addition of skillet-baked eggs, with the biscuits for sopping up this luscious combination.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

2 slices bacon, cut into lardons (optional; see Cook's Note)

2 tablespoons pure olive oil (optional)

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 fresh tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped (2 cups), or 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juices

3/4 cup 2 percent milk

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach (about 3 ounces)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, or chives, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, piment d'Espelette, or red pepper flakes, or to taste

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs

Cathead Biscuits or toasted bread, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If using bacon, line a plate with paper towels. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to the prepared plate. You can use the bacon fat to cook the onion or, if you prefer, tip out the bacon fat and heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. You can also just start with the oil and not use the bacon at all.
  3. Add the onion to the fat (or oil) and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes soften and the gravy thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked bacon (if using), the spinach, all of the herbs, and the Aleppo pepper; stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  4. Using the back of a spoon, make four wells in the tomato-spinach mixture in the skillet. Break an egg into each indentation. Season the eggs with salt and black pepper. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the whites are set and the yolks are to the desired doneness, 8 minutes for runny, 10 minutes for firm, and 12 minutes for fully set. Garnish with additional herbs and more pepper. Serve immediately with the biscuits or toast.

Cook’s Note

There's nothing like the flavor of bacon, and when I eat bacon or suggest bacon in a recipe, I suggest you buy a good-quality bacon with a nice balance of meat, salt, and smoke. Lardon is the French term for a matchstick-size piece of bacon. I find cutting the bacon before cooking to be easier than cooking whole pieces and then crumbling the bacon. Lastly, bacon can be hard to cut. To avoid a slippery hazard while cutting, simply pop the bacon into the freezer for a few moments to firm things up for easier slicing.

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