We all could use a little dinner inspiration — even Ali Slagle, who dreams of dinner. In “Dinner Is Served,” she asks colleagues about one night when they somehow transformed ingredients into dinner with all this life going on.
This month’s installment: When Matty Matheson, the multihyphenate chef, restaurateur, author, cooking show host, and The Bear actor cooks for his family at home in Fort Erie, Ontario, it’s the opposite of a high-voltage restaurant kitchen. At home, “There is nothing in the world that you need a smoking pan for,” he says.
I’m only home on the weekends and whenever I’m home for dinner, we’ll go to Rizzo’s or Tricia [Matty’s wife] will make something because I love Tricia’s cooking. But every Sunday, I make breakfast for everybody.
I love super soft scrambled eggs that take 15 minutes. I always make a pile of super-crispy bacon — the shitty thin-cut bacon. Heinz British-style cans of beans. Those are perfect little beans. The sauce is great. And then Texas-style toast with margarine. We’re a margarine family. It’s margarine or die in our house.
I start with the bacon, because it takes the longest. When it’s halfway done, I start doing the eggs and toast and beans at the same time.
I make bacon in a wild way. But it’s not very messy and you only have to touch the bacon once. You’re not always going back and moving the bacon, putting these wet, gross strips into hot, splattering, sizzling bacon fat. It’s very problematic, making bacon at home. Highly problematic. And we’re just trying to make the world a better place.
I use my cast iron — the Matheson pan, I don’t need to plug it — and I literally put three or four layers of bacon. Really low heat, all the steam comes up and we start slowly rendering all the bacon layers. It gets kind of sweaty and gross, but be chill and let that render down, evaporate, and all of a sudden the bacon fat comes out. We’re doing it.
At this point, the bottom layer is crispy but the middle stuff is still kind of juicy. I take my tongs and grab all of it and shake it. That releases all the extra moisture and then I push the big pile to one side of the pan and use the other half to crisp up all the bacon in that rendered fat. You just have to be patient.
For the eggs, six to eight eggs. Fork-whip those. Then I get a big, non-stick pan and let probably 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melt on medium heat. When that’s half melted, I pour the eggs in and use a rubber spatula or sometimes a whisk to slowly stir it. You take it on and off of the stove and kind of just create a little wave, nice ocean wave, a little morning rippling creek. Nice little morning.
And when we’re doing this, we’re listening to really nice music. We’re listening to some ’60s folky stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of Steve Young, Sylvie Simons, and Iris DeMent is really good for breakfast. We also listen to a lot of Joyce Street. This is important. You can’t just be going into the world with crazy ass music. Bill Fay: Phenomenal for breakfast. Even Bob Dylan did this gospel album that he’s not really on, it’s called Brothers and Sisters. A little Carole King is nice. I’m just mellow. It’s the morning.
I take my time with the eggs and when it starts to look beautiful and curdy, like stracciatella or the inside of burrata, I pull it up into one corner and put it on the edge of my stove. There, it’s on the least amount of heat possible so I can scoop from the top for creamier eggs and the kids can get the harder eggs on the bottom.
I don’t like potatoes with breakfast for some reason, but my kids love hash browns. So we have those McDonald’s frozen things that we’ll put in the toaster oven. And then they love breakfast sausages. I’ll roast them and then pour maple syrup into the hot pan and let them sit there and juice up and get mapley and nice.
And then if Tricia is up for it and the kids want it, she’ll make homemade waffles, lemon-ricotta pancakes, or fresh biscuits. They don’t like when I do those — she makes them much better. She’s a phenomenal cook and makes them warm breakfast every weekday morning. Gotta keep the future happy.
This is all within 25 minutes tops. The biggest thing is slow and steady wins the race with breakfast. Setting things up, letting things go, you just kind of find your rhythm. You’re cooking three or four things on a stovetop, but nobody should be doing anything on high heat at your house. There is nothing in the world that you need a smoking pan for, you know? As I’ve gotten older, just with kids, I’m always worried about having something super hot on a stove. I cook slower, more consistent, lower.
My safe place is breakfast. My safest place is breakfast Sunday morning. The one time when I’m having fun and hanging out with my kids and Tricia.
Ali Slagle is a recipe developer, stylist, and — most important of all — home cook. She’s a frequent contributor to the New York Times and Washington Post, and her cookbook is called I Dream of Dinner (So You Don’t Have To): Low-Effort, High-Reward Recipes.
Daniela Jordan-Villaveces is a creative director and illustrator. She was born in Bogotá and raised between Colombia, the Netherlands, and the U.S. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles with her husband, their son, Lou, two kittens, and a pup.