I’ve been on a diet lately, trying to lose the spare tire, and as part of that I’ve been eating pretty healthy. Salads, lean proteins, cutting back on the beer—it’s been an adjustment, but for a good cause. My son is about to go to kindergarten, and I decided to get in good shape for the occasion. One of the best lean proteins available on a diet is the simple egg. For only about 70 calories you get 6-plus grams of protein. That’s a pretty good bargain.
There’s so much you can do with an egg. The possibilities are nearly endless. You scramble it with veggies, meat and cheese, make it into an omelet with a million different additions, even poach it and put it over avocado toast or asparagus. That’s another one of my favorites.
For a real treat, though, there’s nothing better than egg in a hole. You get the protein of the egg, a little carbs from the bread, and something toasty, oozy, and satisfying. It’s everything good in one package and it’s pretty easy to make.
What Is Egg in a Hole?
Egg in a hole, or toad in a hole, or egg in a basket, is pretty simple, but the combination of the two, plus a little salt and pepper, becomes something so much more than the sum of its parts.
The origin stories of the dish are as numerous as the names it goes by, so it’s hard to really say, but has been part of pop culture for a long while now. It’s also one of those dishes that people may make a little differently. There are a million different breads you can use, additions to the dish like adding herbs and veggies, and even variations in the egg used. I’m kind of a sucker for the basic preparation.
I go old-school with a piece of white bread and a good ol’ chicken egg (brown or white, it doesn’t matter). With a little seasoning and a keen attention to the doneness of the egg, it can be a magical dish. Here’s the way I do it.
First you have to find the right-size hole for the egg. That partly depends upon its size, but also the size of the bread. If you cut the bread a little thick, then the hole should be smaller. If it’s a thinner piece of bread the hole will have to be a little bigger. I like to use one of the cups my kids use. It’s about two and a quarter inches in diameter, perfect for my ingredients.
How to Make It
Here’s the best way to do it. First, melt a little bit of butter in a pan on medium heat. Let it pool in the middle of the pan and completely melt, but not get hot enough to burn. Separately, get your piece of bread and cut your circle in the middle, the future home of your egg.
Now when the butter is melted and ready, place your piece of bread in the middle of the pan, rubbing it around to get a good covering of butter. Then crack the egg ever so carefully into the hole. Don’t get shell in there, because it will be impossible to pull it out of a hot pan. Pro tip: don’t ever crack an egg on something “sharp” like the edge of a pan. Crack it on a flat surface just enough for it to break.
Let that side of the toast and egg cook until the underside of the bread looks toasty and the bottom of the egg is done enough that it will stay together. Depending on your stove, the exact temperature, and how cold the egg and bread are, this may take two minutes, it may take four, but don’t let it go too long.
Now comes the hard part. You have to flip it. Pro tip: if you have a kitchen torch, blast the uncooked side of the egg white just a little bit so it develops an outside cooked skin. This will make it easier for it to stay together when you turn it over.
The easiest way to do this is quickly. Think about those short-order cooks you see in diners and pancake houses, the guys who grab a pancake, flip it, and have it back on the griddle in one piece. It’s all in the wrist, and relies on you having confidence you can do it. Once you get it over, you’re in the homestretch.
Here the trick is to not overcook the egg. You should still have some butter sizzling away in that pan. If not, put a touch on the uncooked side before you flip it. It helps toast the bread, cook the egg, and give it that perfect texture you expect. You want the egg to be runny enough to sop it up with the bread, but the white needs to be cooked. You don’t want slimy egg white on your plate when you break in.
Now You’re In the Home Stretch
I don’t get too fancy with the seasonings on this dish. A little salt and pepper will do it. Just make sure you get both sides.
Now there’s the bread you cut out at the beginning of this whole process. Some people discard it, but I love to cook it in the pan with the rest of the dish, then you can use it to sop up the egg when you eat.
Once your concoction is done, pull it off the heat, and put it on a plate. I’m a huge fan of the paper plate. You get to eat on it without having to clean it. But this is not one of those times to use paper plates. You want the egg to run onto the plate, not soak into the plate.
Once you’re ready, grab a knife and fork, and dig in. Cut it down the middle and let the runny yolk spill out onto the plate. Cut up the bread and use it to soak up the beautiful, yellow-orange goodness spilling out onto the plate. The salt and pepper give the bread a nice bite, and the toasty finish allows for it to suck up the moisture and flavor of the egg.
All in all, it’s a nearly perfect dish, and when you’re calorie-conscious, it comes to about 200-plus for the whole meal. Not a bad way to get your protein, a little carbs, and some great flavor. Here’s to egg in a hole!