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~ Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs ~

IMG_1118Once a year, the day after Eastern European Orthodox Easter to be specific, my mother made one of my favorite breakfasts:  savory French toast.  To make it, she soaked thick slices of the round loaf of leftover paska (a brioche-type bread enriched with milk, eggs, butter, sugar and salt) in a tangy, whole-grain mustard-laced milk and egg mixture.  She served it with lightly-fried slices of baked ham (also leftover from Easter), soft-yolked, sunny-side-up eggs, and a fresh chive garnish (which grew in dad's garden).  Mom made this but once a year because that was when she had the very-specific ingredients at her fingertips -- and we all looked forward to it.  

IMG_1141Because I make brioche in my bread machine, the long task of baking brioche from scratch is eliminated.  This enables me to make this breakfast more than once a year, switching ham for bacon or sausage on occasion, and, substituting fried eggs with poached (when I'm inclined to steam asparagus and make hollandaise in my blender to accompany it). Like mom and dad, I always have chives growing in my garden.

Sweet and savory French toast is common in European countries.  The French words for "French toast" are "pain perdu", meaning "lost bread", because it is a way of reviving bread which becomes dry after a day or two.  The basics of any French toast recipe are pretty simple:  Thickly-sliced, 2-3-day old bread is dipped into a flavored egg/cream sweet or savory mixture, then fried in a skillet containing a coating of oil or a combination of butter and oil.  When executed correctly, it emerges from the skillet crisp and golden brown on both sides with a creamy center. 

IMG_1046For the savory French toast:

6,  3/4"-thick slices, 2-3 day old bread machine brioche

4  jumbo eggs

1  cup half and half

2  tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1  teaspoon each:  dry English mustard, Herbes de Provence and sea salt

1/2  teaspoon peppercorn blend 

4-6   tablespoons peanut or corn oil, for frying

IMG_1103For the ham, eggs & garnish:

12  thinly-sliced baked-smoked ham slices, sautéed in 1 tablespoon salted butter (2 slices ham per slice French toast)

6  jumbo eggs, seasoned with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, lightly-sautéed in the drippings left from sautéing the ham slices (1 sunny-side-up egg per slice of French toast)

snipped fresh chives, for garnish

6a0120a8551282970b0147e0e131e0970b~ Step 1.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the bread.  This is a picture of my bread-machine brioche.  If you have a bread machine, I obviously encourage you give this recipe a try.  If you are not using my brioche, I recommend that whatever bread you are using be sliced to the thickness of 3/4".  If it is thinner or thicker, it will affect the frying time and texture.  In my opinion:  All French toast starts with properly, 3/4"-thick sliced brioche.

IMG_1048 IMG_1048Step 2.  In a 2-cup measuring container, use a fork to whisk the eggs, half and half, whole grain mustard, English mustard, herbes de Provence, sea salt and peppercorn blend.  For six slices of bread, the magic measurement is 2 cups of liquid.

IMG_1053 IMG_1053 IMG_1060 IMG_1060 IMG_1060~Step 3.  Arrange bread slices in 13" x 9" x 2" casserole -- overlapping is ok.  Pour egg mixture over bread and wait 2-3 minutes.  Flip bread slices over on their second sides and wait another 2-3 minutes.  Flip the bread over again, then, maybe once more, to make sure each slice is thoroughly coated and almost all liquid has been absorbed.  Briefly set aside.

IMG_1069 IMG_1069 IMG_1069 IMG_1069 IMG_1069~Step 4.  Preheat just enough oil to thinly-coat the bottom (about 1/16") of a 16" electric skillet over 260°-275° (medium on the stovetop).  Add the egg-soaked bread and gently cook, about 2-3 minutes per side, using a spatula to flip it over only once, until golden on both sides.  Turn the heat off and transfer the French toast to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Serve French toast w/ham slices, fried eggs & mustard for dipping:

IMG_1124Savory French toast is a sublime way to celebrate ham & eggs:

IMG_1152Got leftover French toast?  Try my French toast BLT sliders:

IMG_1192Savory Brioche French Toast w/Fried Ham & Eggs:  Recipe yields 3 large servings or 6 smaller servings. 

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 2-cup measuring container; fork; 16" electric skillet; spatula; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d18d60ff970cCook's Note: I won't lie, I don't love steak and eggs for breakfast.  I don't hate it, I just like bacon, sausage or ham better in the morning -- there is just something about porcine in the AM that makes me happy.  That said, I do like a steak omelette for dinner.  In fact, it's one of my favorite 'breakfast for dinner' meals. Don't try to psychoanalyze this -- it makes no sense.  Let's move on. ~ Steak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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