Egg-In-A-Hole is what I call it. But there are many other names for this delightfully simple recipe: “bird in a nest,” “egg-in-a-hat,” “toad-in-a-hole,” “one-eyed-monster,” “tigers-eye,” “bullseye,” “private eyes,” and even “barn-yard,” If you are interested in learning about the backstory of this simple dish, I recommend you check out the article “The Ambiguous History of “Egg in a hole” by Melissa McCart. McCart traces this recipe back to the 1890’s when it made its first appearance in Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook.
To me, this recipe is about delicious nostalgia. My mother did not make this simple dish; she was more of a scrambled egg type mom. But my friend’s mom did, and I was hooked. I loved sleeping over at her house because we were sure to wake to the smell of buttery bread toasting in a cast iron pan, while sizzling salty eggs were being cooked to perfection. Being a salt person, even as a kid, I welcomed the change from the typical overly sweet, syrup-drenched pancakes or waffles most parents served their weekend guests.
Although I forgot about this for many years, I began making this dish again for my kids who have always loved bread, eggs and butter. A guaranteed hit, or so I thought. I remember the first time I made it for my boys and the giddy excitement I felt watching their faces as they cut into the egg and the bright yellow yolk oozed out of the crispy bread.
Ironically, they did not like it. Nor, can I say, have they learned to like it–something that continues to amaze me. But so it goes. So, the boys get cereal, and I continue to make egg-in-the-hole for me and my husband, or any guest who happens to stop by around breakfast time when we have good bread in the house. All these years later I still think of my friend (and her family). Often the simplest things in life can make the most lasting memories.
- 4 3/4-inch thick slices of sourdough, brioche or challah bread
- 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Step 1 Use a 2 inch cookie cutter (or small juice glass works as well) to cut a hole in the center of the bread slices.
- Step 2 Using a knife, generously butter both sides of the bread slices.
- Step 3 Break an egg into a small cup and set aside.
- Step 4 Heat a large cast iron pan over medium high heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the bread slices and toast till the bread is a nice golden brown color, about 2 minutes.
- Step 5 Carefully pour one egg into each hole. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Step 6 Using a spatula, gently flip the egg-in-a-holes once more and cook for an additional 30 seconds until the eggs are cooked over-easy. Remove from the pan, garnish with parsley and serve hot.