One of my cooking goals for the last year (and something I’ve struggled with for ages) was learning how to properly cook eggs. As anyone who watches “Master Chef” might know by now, what many professionals consider “the basics” of cooking inevitably end up being the testing point for many a promising home chef on that show. I always cringe every time the egg challenge comes up- YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO COME UP! I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M SO SHOCKED EVERY SEASON! I guess it’s partially because I feel for those kids- like somehow I know that I’d have a one way ticket out those back doors too when faced with the same, especially under pressure and with cameras rolling… unless I do something about it now, of course.
I may have grown up in a restaurant, but I never worked the line, only front of house (plus prep, and dishwashing.) And so I’ve spent a few hours each week for the last few years brushing up on “the basics”: things like knife skills, searing, broiling, braising, butchering, descaling, and yes, cooking eggs. Raising chickens has afforded me the luxury of practicing with ridiculously fresh eggs on an all too regular basis, and I’m happy to report that after several dozen attempts with varying techniques, I am finally satisfied with my version of an over-easy egg: that is to say, absolutely no runny whites, and a warm liquid center.
I used to hate eggs as a kid, and continued that avoidance much longer than I probably should have as an adult, simply because I couldn’t cook them properly, but I assure you: once you figure out the cheat codes for these sorts of things, they become really effortless… and the bonus levels are super fun.
Easy Over Easy
- 1 egg
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1-2 TBSP chopped herbs (chives, garlic, leeks, scallions, parsley, dill, tarragon, thyme)
- 1 piece of toast (not really optional IMO, but can be I guess)
- Salt and Pepper
Heat pan to medium heat; add olive oil. Fry a small bed of herbs for 10-30 seconds on medium, stirring, then turn the heat down to medium low, pooling the herbs into a circle before you crack your egg. Crack egg and slowly lower it to the center of the pile, gently pouring it in the middle of the herbs (the herbs will help contain the egg better as well as season it evenly.) Once the egg is cracked, put a lid on the pan (glass is preferable, as you can keep an eye on the whites- I like to go a size down in diameter too, as it seems to steam the whites more quickly without overcooking the yolks) and wait a few minutes. When the whites are set enough for your liking (generally 1.5 – 2 minutes- any longer and the yolk will be hard), remove from heat, add some salt, pepper, toast, and you’re good to go!
Other flavor pairings I’ve loved so far:
roasted bell pepper+artichoke hearts
leftover spaghetti sauce+parmesan
all of the cheese I’m not supposed to eat+truffle salt
The egg is really an ideal place to start when you think about it- it’s just such a blank canvas with a perfectly sweet, warm, quiet, and agreeable disposition, practically up for anything. Actually, I can’t think of a protein that’s more ready to take on the world than the humble egg.
So what skill should I try and eggcel at next? I’m thinking poaching… 🙂.