Some of the best mornings growing up were those when my sister and I awoke to the smell of egg sandwiches frying in butter. Although they go by many other names -- egg in the basket, egg-in-the-hole, bird's nest, to name a few -- in our house we called them "one-eyed sandwiches," and the technique originated with my grandfather; he was a total character, but other than making eggs, he didn't spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen.
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I'm biased, to be sure, but there are a few small details that I think really make Grandpa's egg sandwiches better than all the other versions out there. The first is the use of white bread. (Believe me, I love grainy, wheaty bread as much as the next person, but for these sandwiches, white bread is the way to go.) Grandpa always preferred Pepperidge Farm, which has a bit of sweetness to it.
Another key step is toasting the bread before you fry it. This ensures that it's nice and crisp, which makes a nice counterpart to the salty, soft-cooked egg. Last but not least, Grandpa never threw away the little rounds of toast but instead fried them along with the sandwiches, and these then became little lids for the "eyes" at the end. My sister and I always saved these for last, as a final crisp, buttery treat. I'm guessing that any small people who happen to be at your house for breakfast will do the same.
2 slices white bread
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 large eggs, preferably free-range and/or organic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Lightly toast the bread and butter both sides with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Using a 1 1/2" round biscuit cutter (or a shot glass), cut a circle out of the middle of each slice of bread. Do not throw away the circles!
2. In a medium, nonstick skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When it starts foaming, add the toast slices and the little toast rounds and cook for a minute or two on each side, until nice and golden. Push the little rounds to one side of the pan, and then gently crack an egg into the hole of each slice of toast. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the white has set around the sides of the sandwich, and then gently flip and cook the other side for another minute or so, until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still nice and runny. Put each sandwich on a plate, top with the crispy little toast rounds, and serve immediately with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).