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Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. If I had it my way, every day would be a weekend just so it could begin with brunch. Ahh, brunch! That perfectly timed meal – not early or efficient enough to be breakfast, but beating the lunch rush just enough. And the menu seems easier too, more laid-back and adaptable. It doesn’t hurt that brunch features what are arguably some of the best dishes of all time. Most of them are eggy, and could technically fall under the breakfast category, but instead of plain old scrambles and such, we have the time to linger on something just a bit more involved. Frittatas, anyone? Or waffles? Or (my pick every time) french toast? Yes, please!

This savory take on french toast is a recent adaptation of mine. I was inspired by a recipe on salt/pepper french toast, which seemed like a novel idea perfect for tweaking. I took my love for chili cheese toast – one of the best appetizers ever! I can never resist ordering it if it’s on the menu – and decided to put my own spin on the recipe. This french toast is both light, fluffy, and wonderfully flavorful, and is especially great if you prefer a salty rather than sweet start to your day.

Chili Cheese French Toast

serves about 4 people

recipe adapted from Food52

5 large eggs

3 tablespoons half-and-half

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1-2 finely chopped green chilies

1 ½ tablespoons green onions, finely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

¼ cup grated mild cheese (cheddar or jack cheese work well)

vegetable oil

butter

8 slices day-old bread (works better so it doesn’t get mushy), cut on the diagonal

In a bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with half-and-half, salt, pepper, chilies, green onions, and cilantro.

Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and add a tablespoon or two of butter for taste. Dip the bread triangles into the egg batter, drain off any excess, and place straight into the hot pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side – you want to develop a golden-brown color and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast.

Flip the French toast and now cook the second side for another 2 minutes. While it’s cooking, sprinkle a little grated cheese over the toast. Let it get nice and melty.

Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain. Serve toasts warm with a side of ketchup.

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