When we crave a crunchy, browned piece of bread, we typically turn to our toasters. We slide a couple of slices into the slots, press down and wait patiently until they pop up again, transformed into perfect pieces of toast, ready to slather with butter, jam or the ubiquitous smear of avocado.

As much as toast may seem like the undisputed champion of quick and easy comfort food, it does have some serious competition — think fried bread. What makes fried bread so irresistible is its crispy outer surface and chewy, soft center, permeated with the flavors of whatever fat it’s cooked in.

And it’s almost as easy to make as toast. All you need to do is add a pat of butter, splash of olive oil or any fat you like, even bacon drippings, to a hot skillet and brown thick slabs of bread on both sides.

If this technique sounds familiar to you, it should. You’ve certainly done it before, most likely in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich. The concept is the same, without the cheese.

I top my fried bread with all kinds of things. When I’m looking for dessert, I might sprinkle a little finely chopped chocolate over the top of the hot bread, while it finishes frying in butter. If it’s snack time, I might switch to olive oil and top it with a little thinly sliced prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

For dinner this week, I cooked greens in a zippy broth of stock, bacon, tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes. I spooned the greens and the broth over the hot, crispy bread and topped it with a perfectly fried egg.

The bread stays crispy and chewy, while still soaking up the earthy, bacon-flavored broth, swimming with brightly flavored cherry tomatoes and vibrant greens. The egg, with its slightly runny yolk mixing into the broth, gives the dish added richness.

It’s hard to get a such a satisfying, sophisticated dish in under 30 minutes, but this one delivers in every bite.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com.