Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Really Good Egg: Soft Boiled Eggs with Crunchy Ham and Cheese Soldiers

I don't know what my deal is lately with egg dishes, but if you'll bear with me while I do one more, I think you'll really like it.

I’m not a big breakfast eater.  Oh sure I love a big cooked breakfast with a mimosa or a cup of strong coffee with friends at a restaurant, but short of that not so much.  I certainly don’t enjoy cooking it or cleaning up the mess afterwards. 

I usually don’t get hungry anyway for a couple of hours after I get up in the morning; then I usually just dig through the fridge for some leftovers of some sort and heat them up.  Since there’s not always enough leftover ravioli and diet Dr. Pepper for everyone in the house, sometimes I just have to break down and crack an egg or two.  So, to fix this little problem I have found an answer that seems to work for everyone.

My solution is a quick little breakfast recipe that is my take on an English favorite, soft boiled eggs with strips of toast for dipping called soldiers.   The difference here is that instead of cooking them in the toaster, I slow cook my soldiers in the oven so they are crunchier than usual and then top them with grated cheese and ham or bacon.  This is a little bit heartier than plain old soldiers and for some reason my family thinks that I go to a lot of trouble to make them.  Works for me.

Soft Boiled Eggs with Crunchy Ham and Cheese Soldiers

Soft Boiled Eggs
A really great boiled egg depends on a couple of factors.  As you may know, I live at 6,300 feet so water boils at a lower temperature here which means I need to boil my eggs a bit longer than those living at a lower altitude.
I always use large eggs that need to boil a bit longer, so you may have to adjust your boiling time for that too if you are using smaller or larger eggs than I do.   Before carefully dropping my eggs into enough rapidly boiling water to completely cover them, I set them out to allow them to come to room temperature.  This helps speed things up a bit to compensate for the other factors that slow down the cooking.  You also get more consistent results when you time your eggs when you start with room temperature eggs.

I cook my eggs for 5 minutes which produces a nicely soft boiled that I find to be just right.  Some people like them cooked a bit more, some a bit less.  I advise starting at 3 minutes and working your way up a minute at a time until you find what is just right for you.  I highly recommend spending a couple of dollars on a kitchen timer so you get the same results every time.  My kitchen timer is my favorite gadget.

Hard Boiled Eggs (since we are on the subject of boiling eggs)
These are a bit easier since the timing takes much less precision.  I put my desired amount of eggs into a pan and pour in enough cold water to cover the eggs completely.  I then put the pan over a medium high heat and bring to a rolling boil.  I boil for 5 minutes, cover and remove from the heat and set aside long enough for the water to cool completely.  Voila! Peel and enjoy.

Crunchy Ham and Cheese Soldiers

1 slice of your favorite bread (I love a heartier bread like oat and nut and if it is a bit stale, all the better)

2 teaspoons butter, softened to room temperature

1 heaping tablespoon sharp grated cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon ham or bacon (julienne sliced)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 

Butter both sides of the bread.  Place into the preheated oven and cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until it is brown on the bottom.  Flip bread over and cook for an additional 10 – 12 minutes on the other side.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese then the ham; set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to broil.  Return the toast to the oven and cook, watching very carefully, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.  Trim crusts and slice into strips.  Serve immediately with a soft boiled egg.

This recipe serves one but is easily increased to serve as many as you like. 
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