I don’t know if you’d ever noticed, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I think it seems even more predominant on this blog, if only because sweet things tend to be more attractive. (Really, it’s easy to style a cookie and make people’s mouths water, but it’s pretty hard to make even the world’s easiest and tastiest Cod Veracruz look like anything more than a jumbled heap of tomatoes and onions.) Maybe one of these days I’ll find the time to do some more reading or take a real class on food styling and photography, but until then, you might just have to assume you’re getting a dessert from me.
But not today! Today, I steered wildly off course and made a savory version of a traditionally sweet dish. Inspired by a blogger at Food52 who grew up eating savory French toast, I decided that making my own version was an ideal way to sell the breakfast-for-dinner concept to my distinctly dubious family.
It doesn’t get much easier than French toast, does it? Some eggs, some dairy, bread – even stale bread – and a good amount of butter in which to griddle the whole lot. Usually, we sweeten the deal – cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla, perhaps. Slosh it with maple syrup, and rely on some cured pork to create a wonderful sweet-and-salty experience that pairs beautifully with coffee. In this version, though, what you really need is salt and pepper – a LOT of freshly ground black pepper. And maybe sprinkling of chopped scallions (wholly optional, but a nice touch that reminded me, a bit, of scallion pancakes) and you have a dish that is unexpected and surprising, and yet warming and comforting. Really, it was the perfect thing on a brutally cold January night.
By the way, unlike sweet French toast, this version is suitable to any meal. I can see it with eggs for breakfast, as the bread for a ham and cheese sandwich – or a BLT! – for lunch, or for dinner, with hearty sausages, as we did. I also highly recommend some spicy ketchup as your dipper of choice. I mixed a quarter cup of ketchup with 1/4 teaspoon of sriracha sauce, and the result complemented the subtly savory toasts and sausages beautifully.
It sounds weird, I know, but try it – if it can win over this sweet tooth, it’s gotta be good.
Salt + Pepper French Toast
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
6 to 8 slices of hearty white bread, preferably day-old, sliced 1/2-inch thick
In a shallow bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with cream, salt, pepper, and scallions.
Place a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, swirling to combine.
Meanwhile, dip the bread into the egg mixture, turning to coat, and letting any excess drain back into the bowl. Place soaked bread directly into the hot pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, developing a deep golden-brown color (and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast.)
Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain. You can keep toasts warm in a 200-degree oven while you finish frying in batches.