Hen-in-the-nest

I’ve always been a fan of eggs. They are such versatile things and a fresh egg can taste so good. If you ask me, you can’t have a much better breakfast than a couple of garlicky anchovy soldiers dipped in a perfectly gooey centred soft-boiled egg. This recipe for hen-in-the-nest aka egg in a hole or moon egg just proves food heaven can be so simple, as long as it’s cooked just the way you like it.

Last year, I edited a fabulous book titled Egg, by Blanche Vaughan. In this book, there are a myriad of recipes for this humble and versatile ingredient. This was where I came across a recipe for ‘egg in a hole’, taking me back to childhood sleepovers at other kid’s houses. We would wake up to the smell of fried bread and eat these weird toasts with a hole in the middle and where a cooked egg nestled. I think I only tried it twice and on each occasion it was made with bog standard and stale white bread and served with tomato sauce. When I came across the recipe 25 years later, I wondered if it could be good. It can!

This really is such an easy breakfast, and so child-friendly. The key thing is to toast the bread just enough so that it is perfectly golden and crispy but the egg yolk still runny (this will mean all the better for dipping that bread disc). Revisiting retro recipes is something pretty fun; if made with the best ingredients you can afford and with a few extra touches here and there, the dish can become something altogether new.

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Hen-in-the-nest

1 slice brioche bread (or chilli cornbread is also delicious)
large knob butter
1 egg
smoked paprika, to sprinkle
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Use a glass to stamp out a hole in the middle of the bread and remove. Melt half the butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Once the butter foams, add the slice of bread and bread disc and cook for 2–3 minutes until golden. Flip the bread over and add the remaining butter to the pan. Crack the egg into the hole of the bread and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until the egg is set to your liking, covering the pan with a lid for the last minute. Transfer to a plate, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a little smoked paprika. Serve with the bread disc for dipping.

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