Quail eggs aren’t something I have thought much about. Yes, they are cute, but so very small. In the past when debating such an idea I’ve moved on, figuring they were more trouble than they were worth.
This weekend at the Saturday Market I buckled. So clean and colorful, the tiny eggs beckoned like shiny jewels, pulling me in from their counter top display. Before I knew it, the friendly vendor had fully captured my attention with talk of cooking Eggs-in-a-Hole (or my favorite Egg-in-a Nest). As she packed up my eggs, she describes the quail’s shell and inner membrane as thicker than chicken eggs, and suggests tapping the shell with a sharp knife to crack it open, rather than wrapping it on a hard surface.
Later online I learn that quail eggs are far more nutritious than chicken eggs. They are packed with vitamins (B1, B2, A), good cholesterol, phosphorous, potassium, and minerals. A quail egg has only 14 calories… so tiny, so powerful.
This morning I revisited my childhood favorite Egg-in-a Nest (here), in its diminutive form. The bread of choice is a personal decision, but size matters. Lately my go-to bread has become the smallish Bake at Home Sourdough Batard which requires a quick bake in the oven to finish it. Rather than bake-off the loaf, I l prefer to cut as needed and toast off slices—also an ideal size for tiny nests. To create a round in the bread for the egg, I cut around the bottom of a toothpick holder, I’ve heard a shot glass will also work.
I cut into the egg shell with a sharp knife from the pointed end. Since there seems to be a larger ratio of yolk to egg, I start far enough down (about ¼ of the full length) to allow the entire yolk to escape the shell. Watch out for particles, since the shell tends to crumble.
It’s easier to spread the bread sides with butter before placing in the pan to toast. Once almost toasted on the first side, add a bit of butter in the center hole and drop in the egg. It will likely cook fully within a minute or two. Turn to the second side and cook about 30 seconds to set; the yolk cooks very quickly.
The quail egg’s flavor is more robust than a chicken egg. Some call it gamey, which is an overstatement. It tastes the way you wish an egg would taste. Once you get going, it’s easy to whip up a batch of nests pretty fast. I see all sorts of possibilities with these cuties, not only for breakfast, but with salad or as a delightful snack. Not so fiddly after all, they are perfect when you are looking for just a bite.
1 small slice of favorite bread, with the center cut out
1 quail egg
salt and pepper
- Slice the bread ¼” thick and cut a small round from the center with a shot glass or similar form.
- To crack quail egg, quickly cut into the shell and membrane with a sharp knife. Empty the yolk and white into a small holding bowl. Repeat with as many as needed.
- Using a small skillet over medium heat, butter the bread and round on both sides and place the two pieces in the skillet. Move the bread a bit to coat the pan with butter where the egg will sit. Allow the bread to toast, drop in a quail’s egg and let set. Turn the bread with a spatula and cook to briefly to set the egg on second side. Make sure the pan has a coating of butter where the egg will rest. Salt and pepper, and serve. Makes 1 nest.