Yesterday, I made the Baked Eggs with Grits and Ham from “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook”for breakfast. And then I did it again today. Tomorrow, I’ll probably be selling bowls of it from a stand in the front yard.

It’s a Southern breakfast-in-a-bowl – a fluffy mattress of creamy grits, topped with thin sheets of Black Forest ham, greens sautéed in olive oil and thyme, a light blanket of cheese and a pillowy baked egg speckled with black pepper.

Holy goodness, it’s so much better than a drive-through bowl. A container full of bacon, sausage, gravy, eggs, cheese and breakfast potatoes has its dirty charm, but it’s also a heavy, greasy, coma-inducing gut bomb.

On the other hand, Back in the Day’s Southern breakfast bowl – with its egg, greens, ham and grits – strikes a balance that fills you up and gets you moving.

Right after you finish every bite.

Baked Eggs with Grits and Ham

If you’ve never had Swiss chard, it’s one of the most nutritious vegetables available, but you could use spinach instead.

Slightly adapted from Cheryl Day and Griffith Day’s “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook”

Serves 4

  • 4 servings grits cooked according to package directions, flavored your way
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 large bunch Swiss chard, rinsed, stems removed, and chopped (You could substitute about 4 cups of spinach.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 7 ounces Black Forest ham, thinly sliced*
  • 1/4 pound goat cheese, crumbled OR Cheddar, Gruyere or Parmesan, grated (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter four 4- to 6-inch ramekins (or ovenproof bowls), and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. If you haven’t cooked your grits already, prepare them according to package directions.
  3. To Prep the Spinach: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and sauté until you can smell it. Add the chard to the skillet, and sauté until wilted and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add thyme. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  4. To Assemble the Bowls: Divide the grits among the ramekins, and layer the ham, chard, and cheese on top, reserving a little cheese for sprinkling. Carefully crack 1 egg into each ramekin. Top with a little more cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg, to taste.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the egg whites are just set (or bake to the desired consistency, up to 5 minutes longer). Remove the ramekins from the oven, and let them cool for 5 minutes before serving.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure the deli ham and cheese you buy is gluten-free.