For the past year, I’ve been living off-grid in a groovy vintage camper in the woods. It has allowed freedom like I’ve never experienced before, but I’ve had to totally rethink the way I cook, due to a serious lack of space. I don’t think of it as a bad thing. It’s enabled me to strip down my cooking and discover what it takes to make something truly special with limited equipment. I’d like to think that this has helped me to grow as a cook and recipe developer. This meal—kapusta breakfast toast—is a great representation of simplifying the process and still getting fantastic results. It’s the perfect breakfast for a tiny home, a camping trip, or even a very small apartment—that said, if you have a large kitchen space, it works there, too, and who’s ever been mad about having fewer dishes to wash, y’know?
This toast requires just a handful of ingredients and one pan, but it tastes like something you’d order at your favorite restaurant. Plus, there’s sauerkraut: the perfect food. In my opinion, the only thing that makes sauerkraut even better is frying it in fat, which I know as “kapusta.” Kapusta, or kapusta zasmazana, is a traditional Polish dish that’s basically sauerkraut cooked with meat, typically bacon or sausage. It's something I spend a lot of time thinking about—maybe because I grew up with a Polish mom—but mostly because I want everything I eat to be salty and tart. I like it best with a big ol’ slab of toast. This version is simplified and not exactly traditional but to me it’s the perfect reimagination of a classic bacon, egg, and cheese. Feel free to skip the bacon and double the butter to make it vegetarian (the paprika will provide enough smokiness even without the meat). If you decide to take this recipe into the great outdoors (like I often do!) and are using a grill or fire pit, place your cast-iron pan directly on the grate and toast the bread the same way.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 2
strips of smoked bacon, sliced ½ inch thick
medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
sauerkraut, drained of its liquid
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
slices of sourdough bread
sliced sharp cheddar cheese
chopped dill fronds
- In a large cast-iron or nonstick pan, fry the bacon, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, over medium-high heat until crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat behind, and set the bacon aside on a small plate.
- Add the shallot to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook the shallot, tossing regularly, until golden and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Once the shallot is golden, reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the sauerkraut (if the pan is too hot the sauerkraut may pop out of the pan like popcorn). Add the paprika, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook the sauerkraut until slightly crispy, about 5 minutes, then stir in half of the reserved bacon. Remove the sauerkraut mixture from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Crack both eggs into the same pan and fry sunny side up, about 5 minutes. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
- While the eggs are cooking, place the bread on a sheet pan and transfer to a toaster oven at high heat or under the broiler on high for about 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the heat source. Once the bread is golden in color, remove the tray from the toaster oven or oven and divide the cheese evenly onto each piece of toast. Continue to toast or broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Transfer each piece of toast to individual plates. Divide the sauerkraut mixture between the pieces, then place an egg over each. Finish with the remaining bacon, dill, and chives.