Egg and hashbrown nests
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
For a pretty simple idea–bake hashbrowns and an egg in a muffin tin for a cute little breakfast “nest”–these proved to be much trickier than I expected. Both the potatoes and the egg had problems: grated raw potatoes never cooked all the way through and tasted unpleasantly starchy, but pre-baked potatoes dissolved into a sticky, mashed-potato mess when I grated them. To make matters worse, my first baked eggs developed a hard film across the top. None of it looked good, but I was determined to have my adorable breakfast.
I tackled the egg problem first: the high heat of the oven overcooks the very top layer of the egg, giving it a brittle brown coating. Protect the delicate egg proteins from the big bad oven and you’re set, so we cover the egg with a little bit of milk and cheese. The fat and proteins in the dairy act as a shield, the egg stays nice and soft, and, as a bonus, the cheese on top adds great flavor.
For the potatoes, I decided to conduct an experiment. If neither raw potatoes nor fully cooked potatoes gave me what I wanted, perfection should lie somewhere between those extremes. I cooked three potatoes for 30, 40, and 50 minutes, respectively, then grated each and baked them again before adding the eggs. The 50-minute potato turned into mashed potatoes upon grating, just like the fully-cooked potatoes. This may work for gnocchi, but I wanted shredded potato nests, not mashed potato nests. With the 30-minute and 40-minute potatoes still contenders, I added butter, cheese, salt, and pepper to the grated potatoes and pressed them into muffin tins. Fifteen minutes later, each well received an egg plus milk and cheese, and it all went back in the oven to cook the egg. In the end, the 30-minute potato still had a slight raw crunch while the 40-minute potato delivered exactly what I wanted: easily grated but perfectly soft potato nests.
I have to thank the entire family for helping out with this recipe in the most important way: eating all of the tests! They loved this all-in-one take on a traditional breakfast plate, and I have to say I agree. For all of the bumps along the way, these nests turned out delicious. Sometimes it’s really hard to have a food blogger in the family…
- 2 potatoes
- ¼ c. + 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 T. butter, melted
- ¼ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- 10-12 eggs
- ¼ c. 2% or whole milk, or half-and-half
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin.
- Scrub the potatoes and poke them all over with a fork. Bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, until they yield but do not feel fully cooked. Let cool completely. Peel and grate the potatoes.
- Gently toss the grated potatoes with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Fill each well with loosely packed potato mixture, about ⅓ cup per well, then press it into the bottom and sides to leave a hollow in the middle. Bake for 25 minutes (35 if using packaged hashbrowns), until the edges are crispy brown.
- Crack an egg into each potato nest, and cover each with 1 teaspoon milk or half-and-half, a pinch of Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg white doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan.
- Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the outside and use a spoon to pop out each nest.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn and The Pioneer Woman Cooks.