- Slice the acorn squash into 1 cm (~3/8 inch) thick rounds and scoop out the seeds and stringy inside bits. You need the round, hollow sections for this recipe, so you can save the more solid ends (and any particularly small rounds) for another purpose. Note that the instructions are for two servings (two rounds of squash) as that’s what fits in my frying pan. You can do more or less easily by adjusting the other ingredients.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the cut surface of the squash rounds.
- Turn on the broiler in your oven (high/full heat, if you have the option).
- Set a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over burner at medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the paprika. Add the squash rings to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for about 3-4 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender but not mushy.
- Crack an egg into each squash round. Cook the eggs until the whites are set on the bottom but loose on the top, spooning the paprika-infused butter over them periodically as they cook. The whites and yolk will set a bit more in the next steps, but if you want a more hard-cooked egg, see the notes below.
- Sprinkle a handful of cheese over each egg and place the sage leaves in the pan around the squash. Fry the sage leaves for about 1 minute, then remove from the pan and set aside. Transfer the pan to the oven under the broiler.
- Broil until the cheese on the egg is browned and bubbly; about 1 minute. Remove from oven and garnish with fried sage leaves.
Squash variation—acorn squash is ideal because of it’s relatively small size, mild flavour, and ready availability, but you can adapt this to a winter squash that’s small enough and that has a natural hole in the middle. A good-sized delicata squash would work well. Butternut squash, while tasty, is not as easy to work with here because of the shape and the very small central cavity.
Cheese variation—the cheese plays a very important role in this dish, but there is definitely room for variations. Sharp cheddar has a distinctive, pungent and salty flavour profile that plays very well against the relatively mild egg and squash, but you could try any number of sharp, strong cheeses. Italian hard cheese (parmigiano, grana padano, etc.) would work very well. A good blue cheese would make for a very different but delightfully distinctive variation too.
Egg doneness—in order to control how well-cooked your eggs are, you’ll want to ensure that you adjust the cooking time on the squash, and avoid leaving the pan under the broiler for too long. If you like a runnier yolk, cook the squash for a longer time before adding the egg. Note that the white on top will take longer to set because the heat in the pan is coming from below, but it will set under the broiler.
Watch a video of this recipe being prepared at http://bcegg.com/recipes-posts/egg-in-the-acorn/