Anglesey Eggs, Anglesey
The Celtic Fringe has produced, doubtless of necessity, some classic recipes for potatoes. Elsewhere in this section we feature, for example, Boxty from Fermanagh, a way to make the best of leftover mashed spuds. Anglesey Eggs similarly would originally have been made when some mash from a previous meal was available, but like Boxty the dish is a triumph of invention, a pleasure to eat rather than a culinary dustbin.
Recipes for the dish vary widely now, as would be expected of a peasant plateful – in centuries past there would have been little reliance on written sources or the weighing scales. But the core of the thing is constant: boiled eggs served in a dish with mashed potato, leek, and a cheese sauce. An experienced or adventurous cook doesn’t need precise amounts, nor instructions about seasoning.
So: take mashed potato; add to them some leek sliced and cooked until soft; prepare some hardboiled eggs; make a flavoursome cheese sauce – Caerphilly or Cheddar would be good, but as with the potato element a dog-end or two of mousetrap may have served in times past. In a fairly shallow oven-proof dish, well-buttered, make a layer of the mash and plop the eggs, cut in half lengthwise and cut-side up into the spuds. Cover with the cheese sauce, and bake until hot throughout and brown on top. Serve at the table from the dish.
Refinements include making a crisper top with breadcrumbs (another user-upper) or crumbs and cheese; adding a grating of nutmeg to the cheese sauce; putting a herby touch like parsley into the mash; or going for a thicker cheese sauce and setting the eggs in that, with the potato arranged in a ring at the edge of the dish, which seems somehow tartily pointless.
Restaurants are likely to serve this as an accompaniment to meat, but it deserves to stand alone: Anglesey Eggs are filling; tasty, and cheering. With veggie cheese they are a good vegetarian option. And back to where we started on the Celtic spuds thing, I’ve eaten a related dish in Brittany.