As a child, I was a bit of a picky eater. Although I ate a lot of different foods, the ones I didn't like, I really didn't like. Eggs were one of those foods. I especially loathed scrambled eggs, but was pretty set against eggs in any form. However, there was one very special way that my Mom made eggs that I not only loved but frequently requested. She called it egg with a hat on it. This is basically an egg cooked inside a hole cut out of a slice of bread. It's probably not all that different from an egg sandwich, but somehow, it's different. Somehow, it's better.
Although my Mom makes it for me when I'm home, these days I mostly make my own egg with a hat on it. Here's my method: Use a small glass or shot glass to cut a hole in the center of a slice of bread, reserving the cut-out piece, which will be your "hat". Next warm a pan over moderately low heat, then add a little butter and let it melt. Add the bread and "hat" and let them get a little crispy before cracking one egg into the hole in the bread. The rest is really up to personal preference. Continue cooking, flipping just once, until the eggs are cooked to your liking. I advise sticking to a medium or medium-low flame, which seems to cook the eggs without drying them out.
When I was younger, I thought egg with a hat on it was unique to my house, but as I got older I discovered that not only do lots of people like their eggs this way, but different people have different names for them. My friend David calls them egg in a hole and it turns out my mom actually knew them as Navy eggs -- she used the more whimsical egg with a hat on it when she made them for us kids. I've also heard the names eggs on a raft, eggs in a basket, Rocky Mountain eggs, and gas house eggs. One-eyed jack is sometimes used when the round cut-out is placed on top of the egg like an eye patch. And it turns out that this dish has made appearances in the movies Moonstruck, Moon Over Miami, and V for Vendetta.
Do you like your eggs this way? And if so, what do you call them?
Lauren Salkeld is an Assistant Editor at Epicurious.com. She has also worked at Bon Appetit, Chocolatier, and Pastry Art & Design magazines. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute's Classic Pastry Arts Program and has worked for New York's Bruno Bakery and at the DeGustibus Cooking School, as well as the Houghton Mifflin corporation. Her favorite foods include oysters, bacon, grilled cheese, mangos, and ice cream; she detests fennel.
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