Comfort Food 101

Posted on July 21, 2013


We’re in the middle of a heat wave. The Met Office are giving out safety warnings on the news, everyone’s found their summer clothes from the last decade and the lawn has gone brown.

Oh, hang on, it’s gone again.

Sunday morning and it is overcast, rapidly cooling down and starting to drizzle. That’s more like it; good English July weather. What we need is a nice bit of oven-baked July comfort food.

Eggs & potato

We all have different definitions of comfort food, but for me this is it. I think I remember eating something like this as a child, which I reckon is a large part of the effect. Add to that something containing mashed potato, cheese and egg and I think whoever you are you could find comfort in this dish somewhere. In my definition, comfort food is savoury, easy to eat and (don’t laugh) pale in colour.

My comfort food mojo was partly triggered by the weather, partly by a tired boy returning from a weekend scout camp and partly by an impending overseas trip; all good reasons to huddle together in the cave and eat carbohydrate.

This is not going to be a recipe, as nothing was measured and it really doesn’t need to be.

Eggs in potato

Basically, make some mashed potato and add to it gently softened onions, fried pancetta and cheddar cheese. Place this into a dish and use the back of a small ladle to make depressions in the potato big enough to hold an egg. Fill each hole with an egg and then sprinkle some additional cheese across the top. You can either choose to leave the eggs showing so you can find them again at serving time, or cover the whole thing with cheese and go Russian roulette with the spoon. Your choice.

I would recommend baking this dish at 200C for about 20 minutes, but you’re going to have to adjust to suit your oven and the size of your eggs. As a cook, you can understand a lot about the progress of things by poking them with your finger, which I would suggest here. The eggs need to have a very slight wobble when pressed if you want a runny yolk, but it’s a fine balance between a runny yolk and an unset white. All six of mine weren’t perfect, but not everyone wants a runny yolk, so I’ll claim that one as fully planned personalised egg zoning.

Eggs in potato

I served this with some roasted tomatoes, but if I’m honest I would be equally happy with Baked Beans and a big squirt of tomato ketchup.

Don’t you just love summer food?