Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Eggs in a Hole

After years of saving our pennies and avoiding vacations and walking holes through our socks, after selling woodworking, selling car parts, selling plasma, we have finally entered into a whole new degree of penniless: homeownership. We own a home. Well, in September of 2040 we'll own a home. But I digress. Somehow, even saddled with crushing debt, we qualified for an FHA-backed mortgage on a modest little love nest. It was bank-owned, so we had to come up with funds for appliances and some landscaping, but other than that, all it needs is a good cleaning and window treatments.

I’ve perhaps been a little too thorough in cleaning this house before we move in. I started in the kitchen, of course. Every cabinet, every corner, every wall, every outlet. I’ve never cleaned a home like this to move into. I’ve cleaned a home to rent, I’ve cleaned a home to sell, I’ve cleaned an in-laws’ home. But this, this is my home now. I don’t care if we muss it up when we move in, nor do I care if the dogs come through and shed all over the freshly scrubbed baseboards. For some reason, I am not interested in moving into our home until all the sticky fingerprints and smudge marks are gone. Surely that doesn't make me a snob?

That kind of commitment takes time: all Labor Day weekend and so far the last few evenings after work. I’ve scrubbed the damn shower enclosures three times each trying to get somebody else’s soap scum and hard water deposits off. (In the great American southwest, water softeners are a must.) We’ll be back tonight and maybe tomorrow night for more scrubbing. At the end of that sort of day, when your hands are all pruney from the bright yellow gloves, when your feet are swollen and your arms ache, you need something better than a bowl of cereal before you hit the Advil and go to bed.

Enter Eggs in a Hole.

To be honest, I had never made this dish before. I’ve seen it in a cookbook and in some TV commercial but hadn’t tasted it. I'm delighted to report that there is nothing to not like about Eggs in a Hole. The toasted bread gives you the chewy, crispy texture of grilled cheese sandwich bread. The egg white gets cooked but the yolk is just runny enough to dip those delicious corners in.

Eggs in a Hole
(Click here for printable recipe.)

1. Melt some butter in whatever pan you would typically cook eggs in (nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron).
2. Using a cookie cutter, pastry cutter, top of a drinking glass, ring of a Bell jar, etc., cut a hole approximately 2.5 inches in diameter in the middle of a slice of sandwich bread. (You can fry this in the pan afterwards if you like, or munch on it while you cook, or add to a bag to make into croutons or grind into breadcrumbs, or feed it to an eager dog; your choice.)
3. Lay the bread in the hot butter for a moment, then flip it so that the top side of the bread has a little butter on it. If you like your yolks runny, let the bread cook for 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Crack your egg carefully into the middle of the hole. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Let it cook until the egg white has started to set up and the bread has toasted.
6. Flip carefully so you do not break the yolk. Let this side cook for another minute or two. I like to tap the yolk gently to gauge if it’s cooked to my liking. When the bread has toasted and the egg is cooked to your liking, pull it from the pan.
7. If you are making more than one, set up a sheet pan with a cooling rack on top in a 200 degree oven. This will keep your toast warm but not allow it to get soggy.
This, my friends, is what you cook when you are too tired to cook.
Egg: $.16 each
Bread: $.11 each

Total: $.27 each. Would you like to Super Size that? Why yes I would. How about two Eggs in a Hole? That’ll set you back $.54. There is no more butter in this dish than you would scrape over a slice of toast (probably less since you don’t butter the bread you cut out). Eggs are a good source of protein and dirt-cheap. Bread? Best buy in my region is a twofer from my local warehouse store. Even if I had bought the bread by the loaf from the grocery store, that would still mean only about $.18 a slice, bumping our total to $.34. An average drive-thru meal is going to be at least $4 before a drink. You could cook a whole crate of Eggs in a Hole for that price.

And this is far more satisfying.

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