a good egg

Until recently I assumed (in the egocentric way that children assume) that everyone cooked - or at least knew how to cook - eggs the way that my dad taught me.  Somehow I became aware that not everyone knew the trick. Perhaps there are crowds that do but as there are at least some that don't, I thought I would share a simple, pretty foolproof method for a really good "fried" egg. It is actually a bit of a cross between poaching and frying with little or no fat involved so it is a healthful way to go. It's a bit of an art and takes a little trial and error initially but after that? Easy, peasy. I say 'art' and 'trial and error' but please do not be put off - note the bit and little that modify them. So this is the way my dad taught me...

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. If you are using a non-stick or stainless steel skillet a tiny bit (1/4 tsp) of oil or butter brushed over the hot pan is a good idea. If you are using a nicely seasoned cast iron pan you can skip the fat completely and use this trick* - before putting the pan over the heat run it under the tap and leave a Tbsp or so of water in the pan. Put the pan over the heat and wait until the water sizzles and is evaporated. Break your eggs into the hot pan and let them cook for about 20 seconds. Have a lid or cover of some sort that fits quite well over your frying pan ready (I mean right there in your non-dominant hand) and pour 1 Tbsp of water per egg - all at once - into the pan and immediately cover the pan with the lid. It will hiss and steam then settle down after a few seconds. How long to wait now depends on how well you like your eggs cooked. We like the whites firm but the yolks runny and that happens quite quickly - only a minute. Really just a minute so don't wander off or answer the phone or butter toast or set the table because you may be inviting disappointment - unless of course you like the yolks hard. In which case you might have time to make some toast but only just even then. Whichever way you prefer your eggs lift the lid and check after a minute. If it looks about right leave the lid off and the pan over the heat until the water is gone. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

After a try or two you get the knack. I love eggs cooked this way. And I always think of my dad.

*The 'science' behind the way this works is that the pan gets hot enough that when the egg (or other food) hits the surface a reaction occurs between the heat and the natural moisture in the food. This reaction causes a steam-like effect, essentially lifting the food away from the pan, and preventing it from sticking. Cool, right?!

This may be totally unfair to my mother - the technique may be her thing but I remember being taught by my dad and so he gets the credit :) And if you and everyone else already know all about this, please excuse my silliness and never mind.


Anonymous said...

Just helping us "non-cooks" one simple recipe at a time!!!! Thank you!!!!

Rose M said...

Funny you should write this. Just the day before I read your post I burnt an egg in an attempt to fry it but I've had no problems after following your directions. Thanks! Now I'm enjoying my eggs more than ever!

Cheri said...

Rose - thanks for the feedback :) I'm happy your egg-cooking is smoother now, and that I could contribute.

Grayhouse said...

So I found this today and it reminded me of your egg post and I thought it would be good to share with you: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/09/12/dining/20120912-SPANISH.html

Allie swears by your recipe for eggs, but i'm going try and entice her with this!