2 thick slices sturdy sandwich bread
1Â½ tablespoons mayonnaise
Â¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)
2 to 4 eggs, depending on appetite
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fill a saucepan with water deep enough to cover the eggs by 2 inches. Bring the water to a simmer, then reduce the heat so that the water is only quivering. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. On a board, spread one side of each slice of bread with a thin coating of mayonnaise. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the slices, then press gently to secure the fleecy layer of cheese. Flip the bread over. Spread the second side with more mayonnaise and cover with the remaining cheese, patting down again. Fry the bread in the hot pan until evenly golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with the chives while hot, then set aside to keep warm if needed. Meanwhile, once the water is at the proper temperature, use a strainer or slotted spoon to carefully lower the eggs into their bath. Cook for exactly 6 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the barest simmer, with tiny bubbles just breaking the surface. When the timer dings, remove each egg with the slotted spoon and place in an egg cup. Lop off each top with a knife. Season with salt and pepper and paprika. (Alternative: If you don’t have egg cups, run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle, then rap the fat end against the counter and peel gently. Place in a small bowl, split, and dip away.) Cut the toasts into strips and have at it. Be sure to keep seasoning the eggs as you devour them.