The Bird’s Nest
I call this dish The Bird's Nest because well, it looks like a bird's nest. Fried slivered potatoes and soft-boiled eggs go perfectly together.
The Bird’s NestJump to Recipe
The first time I made this dish on Macheesmo (seven years ago), it was an epic fail. Here’s the right way!
There’s an old dish called “Bird’s Nest” which is basically eggs fried inside of toast. So you just cut a hole in a piece of bread, toss it in a pan, and then add the egg to the center of it. The egg fries while the toast cooks. It’s a great dish and kids really like it.
But I kinda have a problem with the dish. A piece of toast doesn’t, in any way, represent a nest. A nest is lots of tiny bits of stuff. Not one big flat thing.
So I wanted to rework the dish a bit to actually look like eggs sitting in a nest. The best thing I could come up with was to make thin-fried potato hash browns and then set a few eggs on top to complete the deal.
Now this is a bird’s nest!
Breakfast Bird's Nest
- Serves 2
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Total Time:
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I call this dish The Bird’s Nest because well, it looks like a bird’s nest. Thin Hash Browns and soft-boiled eggs!
1) Add cooking oil to a high-walled skillet or large pot. Heat until it’s 300-350 degrees F.
2) Peel potatoes and grate. Dry potatoes with a few paper towels.
3) Working with about a handful of potatoes at a time, slowly add them to the oil. Stir well with a metal slotted spoon to separate the potato strands. Fry for about 90 seconds until they are crispy and browned.
4) Remove fried potatoes and drain on a few paper towels. Season with a pinch of salt and repeat with all potatoes. You should end up with a big mound of fried, slivered potatoes!
5) Meanwhile, cook eggs. I prefer <a href=”https://www.macheesmo.com/soft-boiled-eggs/” target=”_blank”>soft-boiled eggs</a>, but over-easy or poached would work well also.
6) Divide fried potatoes between plates, making a well in the center. Top with chopped spinach and tomatoes. Then nestle in eggs and drizzle with olive oil. Season with chives, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
The Many Fails of Bird’s Nests
The first time I made this dish many years ago, I didn’t even try to get the nest right. I was more concerned about the eggs. At the time I just couldn’t make soft-boiled eggs!
This was my best attempt:
Since then I have perfected soft-boiled eggs and can make them on a whim with no problem. (PHEW!)
But the nest was giving me a ton of issues. I tried this dish four times before I got the method right. I tried pan frying the hash browns and then shaping them around a bowl. I tried baking the shredded potatoes in a mold for up to 90 minutes to get it to hold.
None of it worked. Turns out the best way to do this is also the fastest. You have to fry the potatoes to make thin, slivered fries basically. It’s a beautiful thing…. when it works!
Making the Nest
My old version of this dish was cubed potatoes, which resembled a nest about as much as a piece of bread. What you need is grated potatoes, obviously.
Now you need to fry these, but you don’t need a deep fryer OR a lot of oil. Just about an inch of oil in a high-walled skillet or a few inches of oil in a pot will do the trick.
Get your potatoes very dry and fry them in VERY small batches. Basically, I did mine a handful at a time and don’t just toss them in the oil. Spread them out slowly or they will overflow your pot with oil!
Frying these things is absolutely NOT the time to get in a hurry. Work slowly and carefully or you’ll have an oil fire on your hands. Don’t blame me if you drop a handful of shredded potato in a skillet with oil and it boils over!
The good news: Each batch cooks incredibly quickly. Assuming your oil is hot, each batch takes about 90 seconds to be completely done.
Scoop the potatoes out on a plate lined with some paper towels and season it with salt!
This is the thing of my dreams.
Theoretically you plop any egg in these crispy potato slivers and it’s gonna be good. Personally, I just like the look of a soft-boiled one.
I’m not going to go into soft-boiled eggs here, but if you’re interested, here is my walkthrough which works almost always. I might have one fail out of a dozen eggs. It’s pretty failsafe.
Putting it all Together
Stack up some the fried potatoes on a plate and make a little well in the center. I like to add some halved cherry tomatoes and diced spinach. Then place in a few soft-boiled eggs and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and chives.
If anything, redoing this recipe has taught me how much you can learn about cooking in 6 years!
These Bird’s Nests are really fun and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the super-crispy potatoes and eggs are a breakfast lover’s dream.
This is a bird’s nest, people. Right?
About MacheesmoRead More
Hello! My name is Nick Evans and I write and manage Macheesmo. I started Macheesmo 11 years ago when I was just learning my way around the kitchen. I love to cook and love everything food-related, but I have no formal training. These days I focus on fast, accessible recipes with the occasional “reach” recipe!
I’ve posted almost 2,000 recipes on Macheesmo. For each one, I do my best to give full explanations of what I did and tips on what I’d do differently next time. I’ll bring up the tricky parts and the easy parts.
I hope you can find something and cook something!
32 Responses to “The Bird’s Nest” Leave a comment
You're not kidding about soft-boiled eggs — they're one of the most perfect foods on earth and yet for some reason they seem out of my grasp, too. My dad used to make A++ soft-boiled eggs on command every time. How is it that dads can just do things like that??
Poached eggs are the next-best thing, obviously, and it looks like you sure know how to poach the heck out of them. Those are gorgeous! I've been poaching up a storm lately myself, now that I learned how easy it can be — in a deep skillet, even without the vinegar! I hope someone tells you the soft-boiled secret, though. I'm dying to become a soft-boiled master.
This looked so good that I made it tonight. My picky 3 year old had seconds! We will definitely be making this again. The poached eggs wre incredibly easy. Love your blog!
Ooh! Do you suppose someone could figure out how long to cook it for the yolk to be "set" (but not hard–it should be like a gel) I'd be thrilled to hear it.
that's a 5 minute egg.
This is the perfect hangover cure. You could sneak in some bacon by frying the potatoes in the left over bacon fat :) what about just ketchup for the sauce?
Yea… you could do that. Personally I kinda hate ketchup :)
Did you know that the pleats in a chef's toque represent how many different versions of eggs the he/she could cook? It used to be back in the day you could NEVER be allowed to wear it until you mastered them.
Eggs are super fickle, but you can get by with some simple rules. You are right, there are a lot of variables. Here is what I do:
I place the eggs in COLD water in the pan. I then bring up the heat quickly to a boil. I turn the heat OFF and set the pan in the back. I then set a timer :
2 minutes for coddled eggs
5 minutes for soft-boiled (That is how you order them in a restaurant BTW)
11 minutes for hard boiled.
Now, if you are up in the mountains, it is important to add a minute to the time… as the atmosphere is different out there. If you are at sea level, 30 or so seconds less is required.
After that, for hard-boiled, I place them in cold water right away.
I hope that helps you out! Now get in there, and try again. NEVER give up. Learn from your mistakes!
Thanks Jason. I'll give it a shot. I need to earn the folds in my hat!
Drat! I just had another thought! I wonder what it would be like if you had shredded the potatoes and fried them up in a nest…?
So, I have a soft-boiled egg recipe that works for me:
Let the egg come to room temp. or run warm water over it until it's room temp. Using a safety pin, stick a hole in the small end of the egg (not sure if this is necessary, but some other people recommended it to me). Put it in boiling water for 5.5 minutes, then dunk into ice water and let it cool. That's it. You can do longer (like 6.5 minutes) if you like a firmer yolk.
Interesting. I'll try it along with Jason's method.
Also, the original bird's nest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird%27s_nest_soup
And the not-original bird's nest: http://z.about.com/d/architecture/1/0/E/p/Nationa…
I know this description as Toad in a hole:
There’s an old dish called “Bird’s Nest” which is basically eggs fried inside of toast
The original is so delicious with its crispy grilled edges that its seems to me like you would change the name and still eat the dish :) I always knew it as an eggy in the basket or just an eggy. I guess toast isn't exactly a basket either.
Soft-boiled eggs are one of the first ways I learned to cook eggs when I was maybe 8 years old. It’s pretty much just a matter of boiling it in water for about 5 minutes. I don’t add anything to the water, I don’t soak it in cold water after. Just boil for a bit and enjoy. I think where you ran into issues is that you wanted a whole peeled egg, and a soft-boiled egg just isn’t supposed to be peeled but just eaten from the shell. The egg whites of a soft-boiled egg just aren’t cooked to a firmness that would withstand peeling. Most of your pictures look like they could have been perfectly fine soft-boiled eggs, but they’re just not the right preparation for what you’re trying to do.
Hmm… but the serious eats method apparently let you peel it… and it didn't work. Could have been egg age I guess.
I might be making that hash for dinner tonight to go with some grilled chicken.
As far as the soft boiled eggs, I've been working the practice portions of the Rouxbe Online Cooking School's classes for eggs. I've done the fried (sunny side up, over easy, medium, hard), basted, poached, scrambled, and scrambled with Boursin cheese. I haven't hit the soft boiled yet but they do give a great tip for figuring out if your eggs are fresh or not. They recommend using older eggs for boiled eggs. Put your eggs in a bowl of water. If they lay flat, they are fresh. If they raise up on one end, the egg is older and perfect for boiling.
For what it's worth, I would have preferred the poached over boiled anyway.
Cool. I'm gonna try a few of these methods. Thanks everyone!
Nice tip on the age Chris. I've heard that before, but I always forget.
Afraid that I cannot help with the 'soft' eggs….I am a scrabled egg girl myself….well done…as well. The potatoes look wonderful though…and I do have some smoked paparika that I have been wanting to use.
Thank you for a great blog!
I use a small pot (enough for 4-6 eggs). Fill half way with cold water and place two eggs in the pot and turn on the stove to high. Once it begins to boil I set the timer for 3.5 minutes.
(It usually is enough time for me to make some toast. )
Once the timer goes off I spoon them out and run cold tap water over them and shell them.
It works everytime. I have these for breakfast 3 or 4 times a week.
I don't have much to add in terms of how to make soft boiled eggs, sorry, but I must ask about the brown eggs in your picture. I have always wanted to try them but never got around to it. Do they taste any different or are there other benefits that I should know about? Like I said, I have always been intrigued yet have never sprung for them.
Well… there's no real difference in the color of eggs. White eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown chickens! Now… there is a TON of difference in flavor and health from a standard factory egg and a pastured or farm fresh egg… but I don't think that the color in and of itself actually means anything.
I recommend trying a side by side taste test.. but do it with a normal cheap egg and one you get from a farmer's market or try the pastured organic variety in your supermarket. You'll never go back. :)
Actually, white rocks (a breed of white chicken) lay brown eggs. I agree about the difference in taste between market eggs and grocery eggs. It’s all in what the chicken eats. Pastured chickens give much better eggs. I think it’s the sun and access to natural proteins.
We always called eggs fried in toast, “toad on the hole.” Now if you can make the egg look like a toad that would really be a cool thing.
My Mom always made us soft boiled eggs and served them in the shell(top 1/3 removed) in these cute little egg cups handed down from her Mom. I thought they were always served in the shell but I can’t remember for the life of me how she was able to remove the top 1/3.
Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulation, sometimes you just crack me up.lol
I was really responding to your comment that white eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown chickens, because that's not always true. The Delaware, White Cochin, and White Langshan for example are white chickens that lay brown eggs. Golden Penciled Hamburgs and Buttercups, are reddish/brown chickens that lay white eggs. Polish chickens come in white, buff, black, and gold and all lay white eggs. I've just always found using the ear lobes a more accurate way to determine egg color. But, like I said, even that has exceptions. But in general……
I also thought your eggs could have been difficult to peal due to age of them. Extremely fresh eggs are typically very difficult to peal. I add salt to the water if I am boiling extremely fresh eggs, and it helps immensely. There is really no difference in taste or nutritional value between fresh white or fresh brown eggs – only the shell color. The taste of eggs IS affected by the diet of the chicken though. You were joking about white chickens laying white eggs and brown chickens laying brown eggs, right? The rule of thumb is that chickens with white ear lobes typically lay white eggs, and chickens with red ear lobes typically lay brown eggs. But there are exceptions to most rules, and in the case of chickens there are some that lay pink, blue, green, etc. eggs! Sorry for the long winded comment :) I raise chickens and get a lot of questions about them – I did a little write up on fresh eggs if you are interested http://backtobasicliving.com/blog/how-does-this-whole-chicken-and-egg-thing-work/
But aren’t chickens with red ear lobes normally brown or red? I don’t raise chickens, but that’s what I’ve always read…
Thanks for the link!
I like your take on the bird's nest better. Your self-deprecation is pretty great as well.
If I do the potatoes up an hour or so ahead, will they stay crisp?
Yep! Just keep them away from moisture and store them on the counter (no fridge). They will stay crispy. You could re-crisp them quickly before serving if you wanted to. Good luck!