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Egg in a Nest Recipe

Mastering the Mother Hen Toast

There are some recipes that prove to be very difficult. One of them is Tyler Florence's gallina de madre, or mother hen toast. I found the recipe in Tyler Florence's Family Meal cookbook and on the Food Network's website. However, I was shocked by how distinct the two recipes were: the cooking temperature, technique, and béchamel sauce were all different.

I gave the online recipe a try, and to my disappointment, I had a runny egg-white mess. I experimented with the one in the book, and while the results were better, I knew this breakfast dish must be easier to make.

After my fifth slice of toast, I finally mastered a technique that created a perfectly cooked egg with salty jamón and creamy béchamel. Basically, I didn't make the jamón cup; instead I removed a little bit of bread in the center and nestled the egg inside. No one realized I cheated! Don't let this tasty toast scare you . . .

Gallina de Madre (Mother Hen Toast)

Adapted from Tyler Florence Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better by Tyler Florence


Use smaller eggs to prevent them from running everywhere, not extra-large.

Gallina de Madre (Mother Hen Toast)


  1. For béchamel sauce:
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 1/2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
    1 cup whole milk
    1 cup grated manchego cheese
    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  1. For toast:
    6 thick slices of Italian or French country bread, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt and black pepper
    8 thin slices of serrano ham
    6 large eggs


  1. Make the béchamel sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to take any color; turn down the heat if needed. Gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Be sure to boil to completely cook the flour. Add the manchego, and stir for another minute. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Keep warm over a low heat or using a lid.
  2. Make the toast: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Use your fingers to pull out some of the bread's crumb and create a small indentation in the center of the bread, enough to hold most of the egg. Arrange the bread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes until just barely golden.
  3. Crack an egg in a individual ramekin or small bowl. Carefully fill the indentation of the bread with the white of the egg. Wait about one minute as the white begins to soak into the bread. Arrange the serrano ham around the outside of the indentation. Carefully place the egg yolk in the center of each toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolk is runny.
  5. Plate the toast, and spoon manchego béchamel over the top.
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