I hear you yawning over your coffee and thinking fried eggs were the first thing you ever cooked and you don't need a recipe.
I thought the same thing. Yesterday, COOK'S ILLUSTRATED magazine arrived. If you've never seen COOK'S and you like to cook, you might want to check it out. It carries no advertising and each issue contains recipes that have been tested and retested to see what works best. They also rate food products (taste-testing) and kitchen gadgets. In a way, it's the foodie generation's JOY OF COOKING with answers to all kinds of cooking dilemmas.
The most recent issue includes a two-page spread on cooking eggs. One of my friends is gaga over fried eggs with a runny yolk. She likes them on a piece of toast so that when the yolk is pierced, it soaks into the bread. I have to say that I rather like them that way myself.
The trick, of course, is to make sure the egg white cooks and is set. Globby, clear, uncooked egg white is a bit of a turnoff. Nor do we want the edges of the egg white to get crispy, though I confess a fondness for that crispy part.
So I was curious when I read COOK'S method. I learned a long time ago to use a lid, start the eggs at medium high and then turn the heat down. But COOKS did some things that I never do, so I tested their instructions this morning. What did they do differently? They recommend using half vegetable oil and half butter. Please note that it's 2 teaspoons of butter, not tablespoons. They preheat the pan for five minutes! I never do that unless something distracts me. And they pulled it off the burner for the last seconds of cooking.
Let me say up front that they used a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and I used a 10-inch plain skillet so my eggs took a little longer than they recommend. I'm guessing because they were crowded in the pan it took longer for my "thicker" eggs to cook.
I should mention here that undercooked eggs can contain salmonella. Runny yolks are up to the individual but be aware of that issue.
COOK'S ILLUSTRATED FRIED EGGS
1 12-inch nonstick skillet (note that my skillet was not nonstick but worked beautifully)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 large eggs
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons butter
Heat the oil in the pan over low heat for five minutes.
Meanwhile, crack the eggs into two bowls. Salt and pepper them.
Turn the heat up to medium high (stay closer to medium so the butter won't burn) and wait a minute or so until the oil shimmers. Add the butter and swirl. Do not let the butter brown! Add the eggs and cover. Cook for one minute. Remove from burner and let stand, covered for 15 to 45 seconds according to preferred doneness.
Note: because I used a smaller pan, I had to put them back on medium heat for another minute. Then they were perfect!
Preheat oil for five minutes over low heat.
Separate eggs, two to a bowl, and season.
Add butter to pan. Do not brown! Add eggs.
Cover the pan and cook.
Perfect fried eggs.