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The pefect fried egg (why did it take me 30 years to figure this out?)

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Okay, so my favorite egg prep is sunny side up. A barely-cooked white (not hard, but with no plegm) and a bright, runny yolk are all I'm asking for. But getting the top of the white done without overcooking the bottom and/or the yolk has always evaded me. And as far as a proper sunny-side-up egg in a restaurant? You're more likely to get a winning lottery ticket.

For years I have compromised. The easiest thing to do is just give the egg a flip and let the top cook for a few seconds. Delicious, but that's over easy, not sunny side up. Steamed eggs are another good option: just put a lid on the pan with a little water and everything comes out great. Basted eggs work about the same, but require flipping fat over the top of the egg. Boiling, poaching, no problem. But none of these cooking methods give the bright, proud yolk I want to see on my breakfast plate.

In the wake of St. Patrick's Day and the attendant corned beef hash, I decided that it was time to master this process. So for the last couple of days, I've been cooking three batches of eggs a day. (No, not breakfast, lunch, and dinner - my kids' schools start at different times, so I can do one batch for each of them and another for me.) Scoured the internet for suggestions, and started trying all of them.

Anyway, this morning I finally nailed it. The secret is oil. Lots and lots of oil.

For years I have been cooking eggs with the minimum amount of oil needed to keep them from adhering to the pan. With a Teflon skillet, that means just a spritz of the stuff in the spray can. I was thinking of the oil as an anti-stick substance rather than a cooking medium.

This morning it occurred to me that oil transfers heat much more efficiently than air. So I poured a fairly deep puddle of bacon fat into the skillet, put it on a low burner until it hit 250F, and dropped in the eggs. The oil came up over the top of the whites, but the yolks stood high and dry. A minute or two later, voila! Perfect sunny-side-up eggs.

Of course, quite a bit of oil needed to be drained off before the eggs were served, but that's why God put slots in spatulas, right? And after the oil cooled, it got strained right back into its container - no waste!

Now the only question is how many extra minutes on the elliptical trainer are needed to compensate for the added fat calories. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Or breakfast.

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  1. I think the most important thing is a hot pan you at least want some sizle when your eggs hit the pan....

    dc

    9 Replies
    1. re: don515

      No!! NO SIZZLE!! Honestly, that starts 'frizzling' the whites immediately, and that's NOT what , well, not what I'M looking for. I want my whites soft and tender. I leave my pan with oil on med-low heat for about 2 minutes, then add the egg...(which I've first cracked into a saucer). The whites should just start turning white right after you add it. Just leave it, it will kind of 'poach' in the fat. YUM!! (I do sometimes 'baste' the tops with the fat to get them done quicker. OR, rinse a tight-fitting lid under water, shake it off and put it over the eggs. If you do that, be careful the fat doesn't over heat.

      1. re: FibroLady

        Agreed. I use cast iron for cooking my eggs, and thus need a fair amount of oil for my over-easy (from the sounds of it, I use less than you, but I still like a substantial amount). Sizzle is the enemy of eggs - a nice medium temperature skillet is perfect, heated just to the point that the whites begin to turn white when they hit the pan. This also prevents sticking to the cast iron.

        1. re: vorpal

          I disagree completely - a hot pan and plenty of sizzle is a must to get that delicious crispy brown edge without overcooking the eggs. Yet I will defend to the death your right to prefer them your way. ;-)

          1. re: BobB

            Funny, I am kind of in the middle of the road on this issue. I love mine crispy and I also love a good sunny-side up egg, and I also love poached eggs. I find alanbarnes sunny-side up discovery very intriguing. I have a very distinct memory of my first sunny-side up egg when I was about 4 years old, it was heavenly ... but I haven't ever had one made right since.

            1. re: BobB

              Are you using cast iron, non-stick, or something else entirely? My (albeit limited) experience with cast iron (we're no longer using non-stick) has suggested that cooking at a high temperature causes the eggs to stick and become a real chore to flip, even with a fairly generous coating of oil or butter.

              I have to agree with others who say that eggs fried at a high temperature resemble plastic. I don't much care for the texture at all. To each his or her own, though!

              1. re: vorpal

                I've never had the egg stick on a cast-iron pan. What kind of cast-iron pan are you using?

                1. re: DishDelish

                  Just a cheap 12" cast iron pan bought at my local hardware store that I seasoned myself with bacon grease. Does the trick beautifully! I was dreading it as I always had problems flipping fried eggs without breaking the yolks in the past (I hate cooked yolks - I'm pretty picky about my eggs). The first couple of times I made them, I worked at a higher temperature and they did stick a bit and the whites and yolks tore in the process. On medium heat, though, it's been fine. Perhaps it's just me - I have no idea.

                2. re: vorpal

                  High-quality non-stick, with the butter heated 'til it's just starting to brown but not burnt.

                3. re: BobB

                  you are totally right that a hot pan and sizzle gets you that brown ring around the egg.... my only thing, is I can't stand that brown thing... I'm gagging now thinking about it :D But to each his own... kinda a beauty is in the eye of the beholder or mouth as the case may be.

          2. right on! I have wondered about all the banter about what is the best "nonstick" pan to buy for a while now.

            Give the pan enuf grease and any pan can be nonstick! I like to get my oil a bit hotter tho-- nothing like a thin brown and crispy edge around a properly cooked sunnyside up!!!.

            1. Deep-fried egg - ummmmm . . .

              1. You can also "baste" the eggs with oil and this promotes more even cooking. This is what I do but I don't think it saves much on the calories.

                1. If you are a 150 pound woman (I think not, alan) it will take you about 3.75 minutes on an elliptical to burn 35 calories. 1 teaspoon of oil (olive or canola) contains 40 calories.
                  Of course it depends on speed and effort, but I bet somewhere between 3-5 minutes would cover you, per teaspoon of oil actually left on the egg. 1 teaspoon of butter is a little better, 33 calories per teaspoon.

                  1. I always do over easy but a lid placed on the pan with the heat turned low will firm up the whites without over cooking the yolk. I have to agree the oil will work very well. My wife is the one that wants a fried egg every morning but she would have a big problem mentally with the use of that much oil. She hates fat and goes nuts when I drizzle evoo on vegetables or other items that benefit greatly from some flavorful fat. Come to think of it some saffron infused evoo would be wonderful over a fried egg.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Maybe if you tell her that a number of vitamins in veggies are only soluble in fat -- and would thus 'go through her' without any benefit, she'll relax a bit about the lipophobia '-D

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        I think our wives must be twins separated at birth. Is "oleophobic" a word?

                        Fried chicken finally gained acceptance in our house (certainly not favored, but not banned) when I showed her that the amount of fat in the pan after frying was actually greater than the amount of fat beforehand. So long as the temperature is properly controlled, the chicken absorbs no fat at all, and actually renders out some of what it started with.

                        So now we know the next data point that needs to be established: how much oil actually accompanies the egg to the plate. It should be straightforward enough; just weigh the bacon fat container before and after cooking. My guess is that it's a quarter to half a teaspoon; results to follow. But not tomorrow - the leftover corned beef is gone, and the immediate future looks like oatmeal.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          alan,

                          you ever try cracking an egg directly into a deep fryer? And then scooping it out quickly to serve ...

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Julia Child calls for deep fried eggs in her recipe for Chicken Marengo. Never tried it, but the idea intrigues me. Just one more reason for my dream kitchen to include a Frialator.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              I used to deep fry eggs at my family's restaurant ... in the same deep fryer we used for egg rolls, sweet & sour shrimp and pork ... the good ol' days.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                There is nothing better than an egg deep friend in shrimp grease! When my parents fried shrimp for us, they always cooked eggs when they were done to go with our meal.

                        2. re: scubadoo97

                          Does she not eat the yolk?

                          1. re: Sinicle

                            Yes she does. You know there is fat and then their is fat.

                        3. This cooking method
                          http://www.winosandfoodies.com/2005/1...
                          intrigued me, and I tried it, and found it delicious. Now I just use my Fagor egg poacher--I butter 2 little holders, crack an egg, let the white go into one first and the yolk into another some 40 seconds later. I truly don't know if it's "all in my head", but it seems to yes, taste better. Can anyone explain why?

                          1. Oil? Seriously? Never. I use a non stick skillet or grill pan I use a small around of butter and oil mixed or bacon dripping but just a bit if I made bacon. I crack the egg in a dish and then add to the pan. It should not sizzle that much, just a little. NOT too hot then cook uncovered for about 8 minutes. Yellow center, no runny whites. Simple.

                            When I make corned beef hash I make mine in a cast iron. I make 4 indentations and then transfer to the oven after cracking the 4 eggs in the small indents I made. They come out perfect yellow centers and whites done. I've been doing this for years and it is full proof.

                            Oil. It works but why? It isn't needed to achieve what you want.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              I love me some butter, not afraid of oils, but it sounds disgusting to fry an egg like that...must be the woman in me.

                              I heat a heavy duty stainless, spray with canned oil, crack an egg in, season egg, once the white starts to firm a bit- I put 2 tsp of water in lid, then pour gentley into pan and cover. Maybe 3-4 mintues later I have a perfect egg- runny yolk yet firm whites. Toss a little spinach on the egg and cover for a few seconds more- YUM!

                              We also have a stove top 4 egg poacher that we use on weekends for perfect round eggs...nice to whip an egg and cook in poacher for me 6 yr old- who still doesn't dig runny yolks.

                              1. re: JalamaMama

                                I like the water idea. Like a mild poach, Keep the temp don't so the crust doesn't get crunchy. Nice idea. I didn't like runny yokes until highschool. Don't know why.

                                I poach eggs in a cookie cutter in a small pan. Put 1" of water in my small saute pan and put a cookie cutter in. Drop the egg in that. it stays in the round cookie cutter and 1 minute later just remove and let finish cooking. No need for the vinegar. I bought a pack of 3 round metal ones for 99 cents at the dollar store. Works great. I too had a egg poacher for years until my neighbor taught me this trick, then when I moved and no room ... it got sold.

                                1. re: JalamaMama

                                  This is an old fry cook's trick for people who order "basted eggs". Crack the eggs on the flattop, drop a cube or two of ice next to them and cover. It does work well. Often the veil of the white over the yolk will cook to opaque as well, but the yolk remains deliciously runny.

                                  1. re: EdwardAdams

                                    Are you calling me a old fry cook? HAHAHA- I've been called worse..

                                    1. re: JalamaMama

                                      We used to say "Fry guy"! The messiest job in the kitchen.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        "fry guy" - crappiest spot on line. No one wanted to be the fry guy. LOL

                              2. Really, the egg won't absorb very much oil at all. The edges with their rough texture is the only place the grease will really stick. You get much fattier eggs if you scramble them and introduce a lot of texture to your fat-coated surface.

                                1. The thing I really like about "deep frying" an egg (or poaching in oil) is that the white doesn't spread irregularly across the pan the way nearly-fat-free frying or poaching in water does if the egg proves to be "less than fresh". You get a nice compact egg with well rounded edges to the whites.

                                  But I don't like my eggs fried in bacon fat. Two things I hate in life: One is bacon and eggs that both taste identical, the other is skinless hot dogs that have the same texture and density as the bun. There's nothing more disappointing than eating two foods that leave you feeling like you've only had one!

                                  1. Yes, in Europe, that's a fried egg - deep-fried, as it were - most Americans are unfamiliar with this technique (hint: allow the egg to float in the oil). Use EVOO for this.

                                    1. PS: Don't spray PAM on a non-stick piece of cookware. There's some sort of residue in it that will ruin the non-stick.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sbp

                                        I've heard that before, but have been doing it for decades with no problems. Using metal utensils, on the other hand...

                                        Spray oil (at least the TJs stuff I use) is just oil and soy lecithin. I just don't understand how that is supposed to be a problem.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          I know, I used to use it all the time, but stopped when I read about the supposed effects. I never noticed it either, though I did have 2 Scanpans that seemed to lose their non-stickiness in a month. But I chalk that up to Scanpan just being no good (the second one was the replacement after I sent back the first under the "lifetime warranty").

                                        2. re: sbp

                                          Non stick pans are essentially disposable anyway. Some spray oils will leave a sticky residue when exposed to high heat. You can clean it off but it requires a bit of scrubbing which isn't good for the coating either. I use sprays without hesitation. I try not to spend a lot on non stick so when they get old and don't function well they are tossed out.

                                        3. My bf fries his eggs in olive oil and they really are beautiful to look at.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                                            My SS eggs are a once-a-week thing, usually after I've fried some bacon. Hot pan gets gently scrubbed with some hot water and the plastic scrubber, then dried and put back to reheat on the same flame-tamer-topped burner. Olive oil poured in, just maybe 1/4 cup or less, then bacon fat added, then eggs from a bowl. Salt and pepper and then the lid goes on and fire turned down. Takes the better part of ten minutes. Firm whites and runny yolks for Mrs. O, a couple more minutes to sorta jell my yolks a bit, though the slight unevenness in the pan's heat takes care of most of that. I *LOVE* Sunday breakfast...

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              I love Sunday breakfast when I happen to be home too. A couple of strips of bacon, and I don't use much grease, just a little, very little and fry my eggs. I use my large metal cookie cutter and put it in the pan and put the egg in. It makes a perfect round egg. I remove it after a few second once the white starts to set. There really isn't any reason to do it but my grandma used to make her poached that way as well as her fried and I always though it looked cute. So I just do it. Tastes the same it is just perfectly round. I guess just a habit. But sunday breakfast is my favorite, 2 pieces of good fresh whole wheat bread with homemade orange butter.

                                            2. re: vvvindaloo

                                              Olive oil can't take much heat...it actually breaks down and becomes "rancid" and not healthy while you are doing the cooking. Especially true with the virgin oils which are for salads and cold use.

                                              1. re: Muscovey

                                                Mario Batali would disagree with you. He recommends frying everything from fish to calzone to chicken saltimbocca in extra virgin olive oil. But what does he know, anyway?

                                                Olive oil is great for cooking. Just don't use the unfiltered stuff. For high-temp applications, more refined oils (pure olive oil or olive pomace oil) have higher smoke points than virgin and extra-virgin oils.

                                                As far as rancidity goes, olive oil is a highly monounsturated fat, which makes it especially resistant to oxidation. What you may be thinking of is hydrogenation, which takes place any time you expose an oil to high heat. But the amount of hydrogenation that occurs in a home kitchen is infinitesimal.

                                                Or perhaps you're talking about the production of nasty-smelling acreolein, which every oil produces when heated past the smoke point. Solution? Don't heat olive oil - or any other oil - until it smokes.

                                                The myth that olive oil shouldn't be used for cooking is just that - a myth. Mediterranean peoples have been cooking in olive oil for 5,000 years. Seems like they'd have figured out by now if it were a bad idea.

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  When I lived in Greece, EVERYTHING was cooked in olive oil. Stop someplace for a quick gyro for lunch and how did they heat the pita? Deep fried in olive oil! Damn, they were good. With French fries fried in olive oil stuffed inside too. Nothing wrong with cooking with olive oil.

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    Ditto from the Italians. We make sweet dough fritters this time of year...Olive Oil.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      I just got the David Chang's Momofuku cookbook and he is a fan of grapeseed oil for frying and because of its "neutral" flavor. Apparently it has a high smoke point too.

                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                        I keep grapeseed oil on hand for high-temp applications. That and peanut oil are my favorites for stir-frying.

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          I know we're talking about sunny-side eggs here, but when I saw the post about peanut oil it reminded me that peanut oil is my choice for cooking scrambled eggs, omelettes and fritatta. The eggs puff up marvelously when using this, much more so than with other oils.

                                                2. The fresher the egg, the higher it will sit in the pan, white and yolk both. Why not just poke around the edge of the yolk with your spatula to make slits in the cooked white for the uncooked white to hit the pan and cook thoroughly? Works for me.

                                                  1. Back in the day we used to fry the bacon first (lots of nice hot greasy salty bacon fat cooked out of it) then fry the egg in the bacon fat and splat some of the hot fat up on top of the egg so it would cook the yolk a little bit. Now we don't do that any more. Instead we eat organic granola for breakfast. Wisdom isn't always fun.

                                                    1. Maybe I'm missing something. How is cooking the egg in oil making it perfect? Wouldn't you accomplish the same thing cooking it in bacon fat or butter. I usually rub the hot pan down with butter drop the egg in the pan and it's basically done in seconds. Is this not considered a fried sunny side egg?

                                                      I also am curious as to your comment about getting the perfect sunny side egg in a reestaurant being an impossible task. Where do you go that they don't do eggs perfectly? Any decent diner can make perfect SS eggs with corned beef hash 99 out of 100 times.

                                                      Why has this eluded you for so long? Either I'm missing something or this seems like a minot accomplishment.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                                        That's a 'frizzled' egg. What the author is looking for here is perfectly tender..NON CRISPY whites and fluid yolks. And, yes, frizzled is how you usually get them at diners, and many people love them like that, but not me, and obviously not everyone else on this board.

                                                        1. re: FibroLady

                                                          Confused. I read the OP and they said they used bacon fat. They also said the oil came up over the sides and the yolks stood high and dry. I also googled frizzled egg and didn't come up with anything. So please explain your cooking method and how it differs in any way to me and the OP, and from diners who serve over-easy eggs this way by the thousands!

                                                          1. re: jhopp217

                                                            A 'frizzled' egg refers to an egg put into very hot fat, and the edges of the egg go crispy and 'frizzled'. Yes, many people prefer this, but as I said, what the author and others are referring to here is cooking them slowly over low heat so that the whites remain soft, even at the edges, and the yolks are soft and creamy, not still nearly raw, and the little 'slimy' knobs along the edge of the yolk cook through. This is considered the 'proper' way to cook eggs, and is the method taught in culinary school, although it isn't as popular here as it is in Europe. Mostly cos Americans seem to have been raised on the 'frizzled edged' eggs. To each his own, however it is much trickier to cook them more slowly, as the yolks can get overcooked easily this way. I still think it's well worth the trouble, and I won't waste calories on eating the frizzled ones. I don't enjoy the 'chewy' whites, it rather reminds me of plastic. Oh, and not to mention, the entire bottom of the egg is exactly like the frizzled sides.

                                                            1. re: FibroLady

                                                              I cooked egg breakfasts at a deli for three years, and never once "frizzled" the eggs. My mother made them like that, so I WAS raised on them and know what it is, but that is the ONLY time I've ever seen what you are talking about: it is not a preferred method as far as I know (Mom just isn't that into cooking). I can't imagine a restaurant serving something like that purposely. You just have to watch the eggs and move them around on the griddle quickly with lots of hot grease, no one is waiting 10 minutes for an egg in the morning on the way to work. My whites and yolks are not that far off from poached, soft and juicy, and everywhere I go the they are served that way too. I feel bad for you that all the restaurants you go to have frizzled eggs!

                                                              1. re: FibroLady

                                                                Well said, FL.

                                                          2. re: jhopp217

                                                            I'm with you...I've gotten a million delicious sunny side up eggs at a million different diners. Never realized it was so hard. Soft but cooked whites, not crsipy at all and a nice runny yolk. Guess the diners in NJ and NYC have the best egg cooks this side of the Atlantic.

                                                          3. The answer is so simple you will wonder why you did not think of it yourself. It takes practically no oil to fry cook a perfect egg every time.
                                                            Add about a teaspoon of oil (we like olive oil) per egg to the hot skillet (heavy cast iron is best). When the oil is hot break the egg gently into it. Season the egg as you like and let cook a few seconds. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the skillet and cover immediately. Turn off the heat. there will be enough residual heat in the skillet to finish steaming the egg to perfection. Truly simple - no grease or flipping.
                                                            We like to saute' a bit of chopped onion and bell pepper in the oil a minute or so before adding the egg directly on top of the veggies. We place this perfectly cooked egg onto a slice of toast and top with a bit of picante sauce.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: condie

                                                              Sounds good, but there is something to be said for "poaching" eggs in fat or oil. When I was a kid, my mom would fry bacon for five or six people, then turned the job over to me when I was a little older. I discovered that if you do NOT drain the bacon grease from the pan between batches, the deeper the fat, the faster the bacon rendered into crispy slices. Then I discovered eggs dropped into fat up to their crested yolks hold their shape better than eggs dropped into a pan with a fat or oil coating.

                                                              This morning I had eggs poached in peanut oil on top of waffles swimming in maple syrup with microwaved bacon on the side. Nuking bacon is SOOOOO much faster than frying it. My eggs came out with nice compact whites that were firm and perfectly done with luscious runny yolks that bled into all the little craters in my waffles. Good stuff, Maynard...! '-)

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Caroline, you described one of my favorite breakfasts! A fried egg over a pancake/waffle/french toast w/ butter and maple syrup and bacon on the side. I like to then break the yolk, salt it and dig in. This is my kind of heaven.

                                                                We also do our bacon on a "bacon tray" in the microwave. Comes out the perfect texture crunchy/chewy and I pour off the dripping for another use.

                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                  They are good! There are soooooooo many GREAT ways to have eggs for breakfast! Had another favorite this morning... Stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top. An old family recipe that is fantastic with the yolk running through the enchilada's filling. I think i'ts time I start thinking about reverting to oatmeal to keep my cholesterol happy! '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    Mm, mm, good. I made huevos rancheros a couple nights ago. There really isn't a bad way to have eggs... in my book. Just don't overcook the yolks - puhlease!

                                                                    Yep, tomorrow I SHOULD have oat bran.

                                                              2. re: condie

                                                                Good reply. Think I'll try your version with chives and tomato salsa.

                                                              3. While I believe this topic has gotten insane, I just found this from Fernand Point, who some consider to be the father of modern French cooking

                                                                Place a lump of fresh butter in a pan or egg dish and let it melt - that is, just enough for it to spread, and never, of course, to crackle or sit; open a very fresh egg onto a small plate or saucer and slide it carefully into the pan; cook it on heat so low that the white barely turns creamy, and the yolk becomes hot but remains liquid; in a separate saucepan, melt another lump of fresh butter; remove the egg onto a lightly heated serving plate; salt it and pepper it, then very gently pour this fresh, warm butter over it. - Fernand Point

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: jhopp217

                                                                  I don't know... not sure there's enough butter in this dish '-D

                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    Beurre!

                                                                  2. re: jhopp217

                                                                    >His most famous words were "Beurre beurre, donnez-moi du beurre, toujours du beurre" (from Wikipedia, on Fernand Point). The only thing that stands between me and utter adoration for this man is the fact that he was immensely fat and died at 57. An unbridled love for butter does have its consequences...

                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                      I share that love for butter, and am also, by coincidence, 57. But I spend hours a week at the gym so that I can indulge my desires while remaining heart-healthy and fit.

                                                                  3. Using a teaspoon of oil or butter and adding water and heating before adding the eggs is basically basted eggs, much better for you that fried eggs. No need to scoop the eggs out. If low heat is used constantly and with patience, perfect eggs with moderately or slightly runny yokes simply slide out of the saucepan or small skillet.

                                                                    1. since I eat eggs nearly every day, I cannot use the "lots of oil" technique without my heart slamming shut in the near future. BUT I think I have a viable way to make the perfectly set fried egg(s) with no oil! I take two four inch mini teflon fry pans. I spray the first pan with organic non-stick spray and crack 2 - 3 eggs into it. My burner is set at medium high, and I place the second pan on top of the first creating a lid that is not perfect, thus allowing some heat and steam to escape. You can monitor the firmness of your eggs and create your custom "set" according too your taste.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: devondvm

                                                                        According to the research I've been reading lately, if one is going to use teflon pans, the heat should never be higher than medium. I try to limit my use of teflon, but I've noticed over the years that when it is used over higher heat, it will crack and flake quickly, even if it is in the pricier pans. At home I've brought out my old cast iron pans, reseasoned them and use them for ALMOST everything. Especially things which need higher heat, as they work so much better than my stainless steel cookware for releasing the foods easily. I have even begun using cast iron at work at times. I fervently *heart* cast iron! They DO sell 'mini' cast iron skillets as well. I have a set myself, which I never consigned to 'cabinet purgatory' (unlike most of the old cast iron I 'inherited' from my family when I was young) as I have used them for things like Dutch Babies, and individual servings of other things all these years.

                                                                        1. re: FibroLady

                                                                          Unless the food in your Teflon pan has burst into flames, you're not overheating it. If you leave an empty pan on high heat for several minutes, you may create a problem. But putting a pan with food in it over medium-high heat is absolutely safe.

                                                                      2. Actually, I do think the best solution for those who dislike using fat is to learn to make a perfect poached egg. I LOVE poached eggs, and make them quite often, at least more often than fried eggs. Not because I dislike fat, but because they are so versatile. They can be used to top many foods, and when the yolk is broken, provides the most wonderful natural sauce to be found, IMHO. Lately I've been steaming or roasting asparagus, seasoning it simply with lemon juice and zest, a bit of sea salt and cracked pepper, and topping with a poached egg. (OK!! I admit, I usually add a small drizzle of good olive oil, but this is optional.) This is a wonderful light meal, I don't miss hollandaise sauce in the least when I do it like this, and it is very healthy. I serve it with some good bread, toasted, to sop up every last bit of yolk, and either a small salad to start or fresh fruit to end, and OH! I am going to be SO sad when asparagus season is over. (I AM busily blanching and freezing as much as I have time to do right now, of course.) Anyway, try topping things with a poached egg, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's so good! AND...NO added fat!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: FibroLady

                                                                          Gotta disagree with you on no added fat from a poached egg. The average large egg contains nearly six grams of fat. Well, unless you're poaching Egg Beaters, but I don't think I'd like that. No yolk!

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Um, there is no *added* fat. Meaning, no fat in addition to the fat already in the egg...

                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                              Okay. Sometimes I can be so literal! But I'd rather add a tablespoon or two of butter to the egg yolk and go with the Hollandiase! '-)

                                                                        2. Hey Alan,

                                                                          Isn't it funny how what seems like a simple thing can take a long time to master. For years prefect gravy was my Achilles heel. Never came out the same twice and the consistency was never to my liking.

                                                                          Never cared for sunny side up myself before I started baking eggs.

                                                                          1. To make sunny side up eggs, I take my cast iron skillet and heat it to the smoking point. Add a little bit of oil, spread it around and then add the eggs.

                                                                            Once the egg whites have set, turn off the heat and let the residual heat in the pan take it for a ride. In a few minutes you will have perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: onocoffee

                                                                              My variation on that is that I use a cast-iron flame-tamer plate under the skillet, which acts as an extra heat sink. I don't have to have the skillet that hot, just hot enough to make the whites start to go opaque fairly soon, and I can turn off the gas before they're totally set. The only trick I've not mastered is to get the toast to pop at exactly the moment the eggs are perfectly done. I usually just plate Mrs. O's eggs at the point of perfection and hope they don't get cold, because warming the plate too much kinda blows the whole point of the exercise...

                                                                              Neglected to mention that I have a glass pot-lid that fits the skillet, and I cover the cooking eggs with that.

                                                                            2. I tried this this morning and my results weren't stellar BUT I didn't follow your instructions to the tee (I went based off memory). I started the bacon drippings in a too hot pan (first error) and when I added the egg the fat spit and burned my finger (still hurts). Anyway, i started w/ too much heat and removed my egg too soon and so the tops of my whites weren't finished cooking.

                                                                              Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.

                                                                              1. An Aussie friend of mine said she liked her eggs cooked "sunny side up and flipped over"! Maybe that is really what you want.

                                                                                1. Here I am replying to my own post. Sheesh.

                                                                                  This morning I ordered sunny-side-up (SSU) eggs in a diner. And let me tell you, anybody who says that diners make great fried eggs either eats in different diners or has a different definition of a perfect egg than I do.

                                                                                  These eggs were lightly crisped on the bottom, so they were only a little bit like plastic. And by the time the whites had set, the bottom of the yolk was quite firm. The top was still runny, but these SSU eggs suffered from the same problem as most others - the bottoms were overdone by the time the tops were ready.

                                                                                  I realize that there are plenty of ways to cook the top, from flipping the egg over to steaming the egg to running it under the broiler. But that's not what I'm looking for. If there's a veil of cooked white covering the yolk, it ain't SSU. I want the top of the white cooked, but not the top of the yolk.

                                                                                  So the only two options are to let the white cook from the bottom up, or to get some heat to the top of the white while keeping the top of the yolk relatively cool. The best way to cook from the bottom up is to start with a warm egg and use very low heat. It works, but there's still the problem with the bottom getting done first. Using oil that's barely hot and that covers the white but not the yolk seems to be the best way to accomplish the desired results. Make that MY desired results. If you like your eggs some other way, more power to you.

                                                                                  Anyhow, I did measure the amount of fat added by oil-poaching the whites. (Thanks, Caroline - that's a really good description.) I put the fat in the pan, weighed them together with the spatula, cooked and two eggs, and then weighed the pan, spatula, and remaining fat. The weight went down by 2 grams.

                                                                                  Now my scale measures in 2-gram increments, so it could have been as little as 1 gram of fat that was removed from the pan and served with the eggs. Or it might be as much as 3 grams. But we're talking about an amount of fat that's in the same range as a teaspoon of butter. And I seriously doubt that using a half-cup of oil adds any more fat to the dish than using a small knob of butter.

                                                                                  That's not to say that this is a good idea for somebody on a low-fat diet. But EGGS aren't particularly good for people on a low-fat diet. So if you have been looking for perfect SSU egg, give it a try. If your idea of perfection is the same as mine, it might just be a winning technique for you.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    Alan, if you drain the eggs well, I suspect you're being over-generous in your estimate of the amount of oil/fat they retain. Unless you beat or whip something into eggs, they are pretty much impermeable. If they weren't, can you imagine the mess an egg poached in water would turn into? The oil/fat supports the white and helps it retain its shape but does not get absorbed into the interior of an egg. I suspect the difference in fat content between a well drained large oil-poached egg is about the same difference as that between a large and extra large hard boiled egg. Just not that big a deal. Unless, of course, you poach the egg in butter, then pour the butter over your waffles! <looking around> Who said that!

                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                      I think the question is how well they're drained. Unless you wash the eggs in soap, there'll be a thin layer of oil coating the white. So there's a little added fat. But not much. Especially compared to how much butter my waffles can hold.

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                        Hey, Belgian waffles can bring new meaning to "Land of Lakes" butter....! '-)

                                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                      Hi alanbarnes,
                                                                                      I didn't think I would ever get it perfect either but I finally did. My mother got almost every time perfect but I would miss quite a bit and the yolk would be broken and messy. Well, an ex-boyfriend showed me how his grandma did it. The secret is the oil. She would have oil in the pany and then take the oil with the spatula and drop it onto the white as it's cooking. Keep doing that until ready to turn over and then turn over gingerly and finish cooking. When done, dig in and enjoy and then head straight for the gym.

                                                                                    3. Hi folks,

                                                                                      I read the entire thread, and have done plenty o' research outside, but I am stymied by something: I have four chickens that have just started laying eggs. I have always been able to make a perfect (well, for me--frizzled with a runny yolk) fried egg. I was so excited when the chickens finally started laying last month--beautiful teal and brown eggs--but I have ruined almost every egg I've tried to fry.

                                                                                      I have been using olive oil with a well-seasoned cast-iron pan--and they stick. I stopped using butter about a year ago--and finally realized I probably haven't fried an egg since then. Sure enough, I tried using butter again, a mere 1/4 t, and they came out fine.

                                                                                      I am mystified. Plenty of people, on and off this board, fry eggs in olive oil. Am I heating the oil too high? I know I fry my eggs in brown butter--at a high temperature. And I don't think I've changed my pan preheating timing that dramatically with oil....

                                                                                      Any insight would be much appreciated. At this point, I'm just scientifically curious.

                                                                                      Lauren

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: lsteltzer

                                                                                        Every time I've tried to add eggs to a cast iron heated to a fairly high temperature, no matter what I use as a lubricant, they stick. I've found the only way to do it is to add them to a low-medium temperature skillet; I haven't had any problems this way and have only had beautiful eggs as a result.

                                                                                        1. re: lsteltzer

                                                                                          Have you tried a different pan? I can't see how olive oil is any lesser of a fat then butter to prevent sticking so the only other variable I can think of it is the pan.

                                                                                          1. re: lsteltzer

                                                                                            Hot pan, add cold oil (room temp, that is). Let oil come up to heat, drop in room temp egg. That always works for me. If I've been frying bacon then both the pan and the fat are hot, but that works OK too. What does not work is a cold egg, but mine never are anyway.

                                                                                          2. I heat a couple of tablespoons oil to medium (hate crispy eggs). In goes the egg. I let it cook slowly for a while to set a little, then tilt the frying pan and start spooning the hot oil over the top. As soon as the yolk starts to go opaque, I know it's done enough for me. Perfect yolk - just ready to dunk the breakfast mushrooms in.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                              Another approach is easier: the deep-fried egg (which is what "fried eggs" are in places like France and Spain). Use a small pot (or something that is provides more depth than width, to conserve oil and keep the egg from touching the bottom) rather than a skillet, pour olive oil in to at least 1/2 inch. Heat it up over moderate heat. Open an egg into a custard cup or small bowl, and gently drop it into the hot oil. The edges get a bit frilly, but you can cook the egg to your desired level of doneness. You can spoon it out (a nonstick implement helps) onto a paper towel, top it off with some coarse salt and pepper, and use it like any fried or poached egg.

                                                                                            2. AB, I like my eggs the same way and have never had problems. I cook them at the moment in my LC pan on medium high with no oil but the excess of what I cooked first. Someimes I cook them on their own and it's the same thing.

                                                                                              I don't know how, but I just never really thought about it.

                                                                                              1. Wouldn't it work to use a bit of butter and/or oil and cover the pan so that the top cooks without a flip being needed?

                                                                                                theobsessivechef.blogspot.com

                                                                                                1. If you want to get a perfectly fried egg as you describe, lightly cooked while and bright orange/yellow yoke untouch by heat, sunnyside egg try this method.

                                                                                                  Separate the egg into white and yoke. Cook the white and put the yoke back on at the end of the cooking process. As for cooking the white, you can fry but if you want it cooked even (top and bottom) of the white egg, lightly fry then bake.

                                                                                                  For me it is a lot of trouble for an egg so I just fry it on my cast iron skillet with minimal oil.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Soup

                                                                                                    :/ Did it last night drunk, and it worked great again.

                                                                                                  2. As long as this thread has been revived, just thought I'd chime in with something I don't think has been mentioned yet - the starting temperature of the egg.

                                                                                                    Although I've not yet tried it with fried eggs, I'm a true believer in Alton's method of warming up to room temperature any egg that's come out of a refrigerator before making an omelette. He does this by putting the eggs in a bowl of hot (not scalding) water for five minutes.
                                                                                                    His theory is that the faster one can go from raw eggs to "finished", the more tender the omelette will be.
                                                                                                    I'm not sure how this might translate to fried eggs, but I think I'll give it a try next time I want a SSU. - I'll also be trying his tip of slightly tipping his pan when first starting his fried eggs so that the whites "puddle" and don't spread out before setting up.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                      Bryan, I always leave my eggs out a hour or more before I cook them, fried scrambled, or in an omlette. perhaps that's why I don't have so much a problem. BTW-- Same thing for meats -- I always bring them to room temp before putting any heat to them (they will be much more tender as a result).

                                                                                                      1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                        Good tip.
                                                                                                        I do the same with all meat except if it's going to be cooked in a crockpot.
                                                                                                        The rest of time it goes on something made of metal which greatly reduces the time it would otherwise take to get to room temp.

                                                                                                      2. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                        I do this with all the eggs I use in baking. Get much better results than when using cold eggs.

                                                                                                        1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                                          in europe, i read, they'd never refrigerate an egg. and really, on farms i've spent good amounts of time on, the eggs go into a part of the cellar that's coolish, not refrigerated.

                                                                                                          1. re: lil magill

                                                                                                            I have lived on a sailboat for over 25 years of my life with a few years cruising remote areas of the world. We never refrigerated eggs... they were stored in the bilge (where the outside water temp was often about 80F). Buy farm fresh UNWASHED eggs and they will last up to 3 weeks or so. The film on the outside of the egg protects it. Apparently our modern "egg factory" methods are the culprits in salmonella and other bacteria contamination. We never had a problem with eggs in third world counties. My grandma stored her eggs on her porch in Va. None ever saw refrigeration. 60+ years and no ill effects.

                                                                                                            But I do refrigerate eggs I buy from the Safeway! (oximoronic).

                                                                                                            1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                              I guess that could be my secret - the eggs stay out on the side all the time, and are room temp.

                                                                                                        2. there is a much easier way that uses no more oil. simply pop the frying pan under the broiler for a couple of minutes once the bottom has set.

                                                                                                          1. Jamie Oliver fries them the same way. You can always set them for a second on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil if that is a problem.

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                              Looking back over this thread, I think the modern somewhat irrational aversion to oil and fats is the real culprit to the problems people have when simply frying an egg. I always fry eggs (2 at a time) in a thin pat of real butter and a little dribble of light (color) olive oil (not EVOO). I use a regular (not non-stick) 8" Caphalon pan. I crack my eggs into a custard cup when cold from the fridge, then allow them to come to near room temp before going into the pan. (it is much easier to crack a cold egg with out beaking the yoke). The fry pan (meticulously squeeky clean) goes on the burner at med temp until the butter has barely melted and turn the pan to coat evenly. Then I slide the eggs into the pan & turn up the heat. From there it's all about how you like your eggs. Sunnyside lovers would just let the whites congeal and slide the eggs off the pan. For more well done eggs turn the heat back down and put a lid on the pan until done to your liking. I am not much for eggs over, so you are on your own from here.

                                                                                                              Back to the oil and fats--- after cooking eggs this style, most of the added fats remain in the pan, not on your eggs. If you butter your toast, you are kidding yourself about the fat.

                                                                                                              1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                                I prefer bacon fat to oil and butter. It's sinfully good and if you spoon a little over the yolk it transforms them into this gorgeous silky texture. Amazing stuff.

                                                                                                                Alan makes a good point about having enough fat in the pan so as to properly cook the whites. You shouldn't have to put a lid over the pan to cook the whites - this is steaming them. I'd rather they cook in fat. :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                  I use the olive oil and butter combo to placate my cardiologist. Completely agree with your bacon fat suggestion.

                                                                                                                  1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                                    Why not add the bacon fat to the butter & oo... you'd have the perfect fat trifecta '-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                      lingua, it's not how much fat you eat its what kind of fat! -- take from a stroke survivor and 6 way heart by-pass "victim".

                                                                                                                      1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                                        Holy cow! Glad you survived and are better now.

                                                                                                                        Of course, my reply was a bit tongue in cheek. I tend to use bacon fat on its own, and not a lot cause a little goes a long way.

                                                                                                                        But butter & oil are perfect for pan-frying meat & fish.

                                                                                                            2. I love reading all the different ways people try to get good sunny up eggs, but most of these seem so complicated.

                                                                                                              I make sunny-up eggs for my kids before school -- fast, lol . The yolk needs to be runny for toast dipping, and the white has to be fully cooked with barely brown edges. My technique is to heat the pan, usually non stick, with a small amount of butter (or bacon grease), at 7 on my stove dial, so medium-high. When hot, put the egg into the pan, directly from the shell or from a small bowl, whatever I feel like. I usually cook one at a time, so I put the egg to the side of the pan, not the center. Immediately cover the pan and set the timer for 2 minutes. (No water in the pan). Timer rings, slide egg out onto plate. Perfect every time. It's really that simple. Maybe you might have to adjust the heat slightly to get the timing right for your particular stove/pan combo, but that's it.

                                                                                                              I'm pretty sure I got this technique from Cooks Illustrated.

                                                                                                              1. All I can say about egg cookery is that when I took a job cooking brunch one day a week at a restaurant 30 years ago, I though it'd be childs play. It was not.

                                                                                                                Cooking the perfect fried egg is achieved the same way one "gets to Carnegie Hall;" practice, practice, practice.

                                                                                                                1. I read the complete thread and never did I see a mention of the starting egg temprature.

                                                                                                                  Most diners have the eggs handy to the stove so they are not just out of the refridgerator. Home cooks are likely to taken them out of the refridgerator straight into the prep dish.

                                                                                                                  The white bottoms are in direct contact with the heat while the white tops and the yolks are semi insulated from the heat requiring a lower temprature and longer cooking time.

                                                                                                                  Sounds logical? The moral is -- let your eggs come to room temprature before hitting the pan.

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Lonestarjack

                                                                                                                    Very good point, jack.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Lonestarjack

                                                                                                                      Suggestions to use room temp eggs was mentioned several times. You are quite correct though.