Oft referred to as a frog in a hole, the classic egg in a basket is the epitome of simple and rewarding. On weekend days when I don’t know what I want for breakfast, I usually end up making one. On Saturday, I decided that I wanted one, but then I did a little bit of math and came across something spectacular. Now, we all know that one plus one equals two. But, what happens when you put a slice of havarti cheese in between one and two? That is what I call the calculus of food. Most of my ideas come to me in this way. I’m still toward the beginning of my long, cooking journey, so I’m not able to innovate like some of the pros. Yet to come are the days where I make a bubble that tastes like bacon or a non-Newtonian fluid that simultaneously tastes like cookies and cream ice cream and wasabi paste. So for now, I’ll stick to the calculus of food, using the building blocks we all know and love and enhancing them with just a little bit of maths.
To give this metaphor a little bit more substance, I’ll elaborate. The cheese in this case is like calculating an integral. It’s the area between one and two, but like the closed bracket kind so it’s technically infinite (havarti is definitely one of those infinite cheeses). What makes this different from mere addition of bread plus egg plus cheese, are the derivatives. In this case, each element has its own derivative flav. I chose to go with a smooth, creamy derived cheese, but just as easily could’ve gone with something a bit sharper like an aged cheddar. Sure, my math metaphor here is a pretty weak and sure, I haven’t taken a calculus class for over 4 years, but you get the idea. Just like math, cooking is an art and a science, one that can lead to great frustration, but can also lead to great triumph.
The egg in a basket grilled cheese is one of those triumphs. If you’re a fan of dippy eggs, this recipe (or should I say equation?) is going to give you great pleasure. It’s also something that you can personalize with your own variables, like using a sourdough bread instead of a wheat, or a pepper jack instead of a havarti. Here, I’ve laid down the groundwork, so going forward, customize to your liking and enjoy.
2 slices of a hearty bread (heartier breads will provide more structural integrity)
1/2 tablespoon butter
1-3 slices of a melty cheese
Preheat your pan over medium heat. Cut a circle out of the center of each slice of bread. Once the pan is hot, put the butter in the pan and let it get the whole pan buttery. Place the slices of bread in the pan and crack an egg into each pre-cut circle. Sprinkle, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you desire (I used dried dill) and let cook for 1-2 minutes. When you flip the slices, the bread should be golden brown and the egg should cook long enough to stay in place. Lay a slice of cheese on both slices and let cook for another 1-2 minutes, depending on how dippy you like your yolks. Remove the slices from the pan and gently put the two cheese sides together.
Once plated, this rich and hearty grilled cheese is ready to eat. You’ll be deeply sated and, if my hopes are true, have a little bit more appreciation for all the maths out there.