On most mornings this time of year, I’m awakened to the melodiuos chirping of birds preparing for spring. However, this season (at roughly 3 A.M.) my slumber’s been suspended by one of the loudest birds my ears have ever encountered. By the fourth sleepless night, I decided to venture outside to handle the issue (i.e. make pointless verbal threats at a tree). Flashlight in-hand, I prepared myself to face what must be a 15 foot sparrow with a bullhorn—I cannot rationalize anything else capable of such volume. To my relief I startled two finches, furiously fluttering about. As I drew closer, I realized they were intently building a nest in the eave of my roof (apparently they’re on the night shift). Though I was dismayed for the audible interruption, I was happy to see spring in full effect! Sometimes little moments like this provide inspiration, and I’ve been needing some in the kitchen. I make a variety of spring & Easter recipes, and sometimes grow tired of the same deviled eggs and ham. Thanks to my little songbirds, I decided on a new brunch recipe this year, Easter Egg Hash Brown Nests with bacon & cheese—you didn’t think I’d skip bacon on a holiday did you?
Betty Crocker has a recipe for these that’s been around for years. Theirs uses boxed potatoes, but I decided to create a version using fresh potatoes, parmesan, eggs, havarti and maple bacon. Breakfast all in one bundle! I think these would be great for an Easter brunch alongside virtually any dish, and we only need a few ingredients.
- 2 cups raw hash brown potatoes (not frozen, either bag of fresh or grated fresh)
- 6 eggs (large, but not XL)
- 3 strips maple bacon, crisped & chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper (finely ground)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
- 6 slices Havarti cheese (small ~1 inch square slices, can use any cheese)
- *cooking oil spray (to coat muffin tins)
- *larger size muffin tin (with 6 wells, recipe can be doubled)
- Crisp slices of bacon in skillet, set aside and chop.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray muffin tin liberally with canola or vegetable cooking oil spray (coating well bottom & sides).
- In bowl combine shredded potatoes, parmesan, salt, pepper, paprika, minced garlic, stir well to coat.
- To oiled muffin tin, press ~1/4 cup hash brown potato mix into each well, using hands to depress/form a ‘nest’ with potatoes evenly spread out on bottom & up sides to ‘hold’ egg.
- Lightly spray top of potato nests with a little more oil.
- Bake hash brown nests in 425 degree oven until browning (15-20 mins), check partially through cooking to make sure they’re not over-browning (if so reduce heat to 400, if not browning raise temp to 450—mine took longer, 20 mins partially at 450).
- Remove browned nests from oven & cool completely in pan & reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.
- To each browned nest, sprinkle ~1 tsp worth of chopped bacon (pressing bacon slightly down against bottom of potato nest to save room).
- To bacon add small slice of the havarti cheese (or sprinkle any shredded cheese) just a little to coat, but not to fill well of muffin tin too high).
- Carefully crack one egg into each nest (6 wells total), carefully to not spill/overflow egg white & also centering yolk in middle (they should be very full, but not overflowing the pan).
- Bake eggs in nests until whites are cooked through and yolk is desired doneness (I like mine partially runny) ~15-18 minutes (check periodically and if cooking fast reduce oven temp to 350 and/or take out pans early).
- Cool pan enough to handle and then using a knife carefully loosen edges of nests and with a small spatula carefully remove nests scraping bottom to make sure nest stays intact.
- Serve warm!
If you prefer your yolk to be firm & cooked-through, simply bake a longer, I prefer runnier yolks, so I just watched the egg closely as they cooked. Also, any cheese will work here!
This took me a little trial & error at first. Initially I mixed melted butter with the potatoes, which resulted in a greasy not-so-nest of hash browns. By omitting the butter and raising the oven temp, I was able to get these little guys golden before the egg was baked inside. You could really use any cheese, or any additions for that matter—I’m planning to try proscuitto and spinach next time. I love that these are portioned for single servings, which couldn’t be more perfect—and festive—for this weekend’s Easter brunch.
May you enjoy the many gifts of this season, especially in the kitchen!