Cooking eggs seems easy, right? Scrambled, boiled, etc. doesn’t seem too complicated. To be honest, it’s one of the most difficult things for young and upcoming cooks to get right. It can even throw seasoned chefs off their game. Why is that? Well, eggs are very temperamental. even ones in the same carton that are the same age can cook at different temperatures. Not to mention that they can brown and burn very easily. And then there’s the yolk…ah the yolk. I still have nightmares of trying to cook the perfect over-easy egg, only to have the yolk burst when I flip it. Even omelettes are more tricky than you might think.
Now, in restaurants, eggs can have no browning, and can be difficult for a single cook to manage cooking eggs-to-order for 20 plus people at a time. Although this isn’t really a problem for a home cook serving up a family weekend brunch, I do have a few over all egg tips to improve the quality and consistency for your Saturday egg breakfast.
First of all, Use and egg pan! A teflon coated pan is the egg’s best friend. It will never stick, and transfers heat gently to the egg so it won’t overcook. Second, don’t be afraid of a little fat. Butter, lard, duck fat, or even coconut oil spiked with a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil will allow for your sunny side up egg or omelette to cook evenly. Plus, fats transfer a lot of flavor. Also, use low heat. Eggs are one of the things that don’t like to be rushed. When I cook eggs, my heat is so low that for the first 20 seconds it doesn’t look like anything is happening in the pan. As i’m forming my omelette or scrambling my egg, or even cracking a sunny side-up egg into the pan, the heat will very gently move into the egg and slowly set the bottom. After it looks like the egg is starting to cook, I cover my pan with another pan to create a little makeshift oven. This will help set the top of the egg and cook it gently and evenly. The only other tool I need to cook eggs is a soft rubber or silicone spatula as it can conform to the pan and won’t scratch the pan.
Especially tricky can be over-easy eggs. If you have an order for one of those in your home next time you are cooking breakfast, here are a few tricks. First, keep your eggs out at room temperature for at least half an hour before you start cooking. A cold egg in a hot pan is a little shocking, temperature wise. By bringing the temperature in your egg to room temp, the egg will have a more gentle cooking experience and the yolk will less likely break. Turn on the heat to your stove at a very low temperature, just like before, and add a tablespoon or so of fat like butter, oil, etc. Once your pan is is fully heated, break your egg into a small bowl, gently transfer to the pan, and just walk away. Leave it alone for at least 30 seconds. No amount of poking, prodding, or shaking will get your egg to cook any faster. Once you see the whites starting to bubble and jump a bit, its ready to flip. Now, it takes a little practice, but this pan flip not only makes you look like a pro in the kitchen, but also is the most gentle way to flip you over-easy egg if done correctly. First, move the egg to the edge of the pan opposite the handle. Next, get a firm grip on the handle, and thrust forward on the pan. As the egg hits the edge of the pan, it will want to jump, so in one quick motion, lift up on the handle, and as the egg turns, position the pan to catch. Voila! the perfect flip. It takes a little practice, but don’t be afraid of trying! I flipped more eggs onto the ground than I care to admit while I was learning this technique.
The other issue with eggs is doneness. Everyone likes their eggs cooked a little different, and they are so delicate that it can be difficult to get it right. eggs cook very quickly with relatively little heat, so above all else, don’t walk away from the pan. At breakfast, pan cooked eggs should always be the last thing cooking because they cook so quickly and don’t hold for very long. So, you need to stay right by that eggs side so that it doesn’t overcook. And don’t be afraid to poke the yolk…very gently…from time to time as it is usually the best way to tell how long it has left to cook. And lastly, remember that (and this is true of ANYTHING with eggs in it…cakes, custards, omelettes, etc.) if it is cooked perfectly in the pan, it will be overdone once it cools. So as a general practice…and I know, this feels a little weird at first….pull your food off the heat when it is slightly under done. The heat that is in your food will continue cooking it even after it has ben taken off the heat by 5 to 10 degrees. This is called carryover cooking, and by removing your food when it is juuuuust underdone, will ensure a perfect egg every time.
Now your eggs may perfectly fine the way they are, but I hope a few of these tips can be helpful for you next time you are whipping up a meal in the kitchen. Eggs can be a little finicky and frustrating, but don’t give up. With a little practice you can give any diner or griddle cook a run for their money!