Spoiler alert: this makes the “perfect” fried eggs, IF you like sunny-side-up fried eggs. However, by the end of this experiment, I realized that I don’t really care for fried eggs unless they’ve been flipped over so the other side gets a chance to cook. I honestly thought there was just one type of fried egg – cooked on both sides and the yolk barely runny. But now I guess it makes sense why every diner waiter/waitress asks you how you want your eggs…
If you’re a fried-egg-noobie like me, here is the breakdown of the numerous ways to fry and egg:
– Sunny side up: The egg is fried with the yolk very runny and is not flipped.
– Over easy: The egg is flipped and the yolk is still quite runny.
– Over medium: The egg is flipped and the yolk is just slightly runny.
– Over well or Over hard: The egg is flipped and the yolk is cooked completely.
It took a couple tries to make the perfect fried eggs. The first time, I didn’t use a timer and just sort of guessed at the time intervals. I ended up with eggs that were so runny and under cooked I had to spoon it onto saltine crackers. Not a bad combo, actually. Well, except for the liquefied egg whites… that’s a pretty weird texture to swallow. The second time, I used a timer and the eggs turned out beautifully and precise to the description in Cook’s Illustrated. It was at this point that I humbly came to the realization that sunny-side-up fried eggs are not my jam. I love eggs, don’t get me wrong. But when my yolks are out-running me on the plate faster than I can scoop them into my mouth, we have a problem. I like my yolks a little set. So they still gush out when you open them, but at a nice slow, sultry pace. You know what I mean?
According to Cook’s Illustrated, the perfect fried egg showcases the whites fully cooked but still tender with crispy, lacy, browned edges and the yolk slightly thickened but still very runny.
If you have ever read an issue of Cook’s Illustrated, you know those folks over at America’s Test Kitchen take their food and recipe development seriously. And if you’re as serious about making the perfect [sunny-side-up] fried eggs, then let’s get down to the science.
How to Make the Perfect Fried Eggs
(1) Preheat the pan on low heat for 5 minutes. This ensures there are no uneven hot spots that would lead to unevenly cooked eggs.
(2) Use two types of fat – vegetable with a high smoke point to preheat the pan, & butter to ensure proper browning of the whites and richness of flavor.
(3) Add all the eggs at once by pre-cracking and pre-seasoning them in a bowl, so they cook at the same rate.
(4) Cover the eggs as they cook with a lid so the eggs cooks both from the heat of the pan and the steam that gets trapped inside.
(5) Finish cooking the eggs off the heat with the lid still on so the whites finish cooking while the yolks stay runny.
perfect fried eggs (serves 2, or cut # of eggs and qty of fats in half to serve 1)
from Cook’s Illustrated Issue Number 123 from July & August 2013
– 2 tsp vegetable oil
– 4 large eggs
– salt and pepper
– 2 tsp unsalted butter, but into 4 pieces and chilled
– Heat the vegetable oil in a 12-inch or 14-inch nonstick skillet on low heat for 5 minutes.
– Crack two eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Repeat for the other two eggs in a separate bowl.
– Increase the heat to medium/high until the oil is shimmering.
– Add the butter to the skillet and swirl it to coat the pan.
– Quickly pour the two bowls of eggs into the pan on opposite sides so they are spread out.
– Cover and cook for 1 minute.
– Move the skillet off the burner. Let stand, still covered, for 60 seconds for soft yolks or 2 minutes for medium-set yolks.