Do you think of foodies as obsessed with high-end dishes, with French names and a harmony of flavors, brought about by exotic ingredients and elaborate preparations? Well, sometimes, what makes a foodie's heart go a-flutter is the simplest thing, done perfectly.I ordered breakfast at the Hyatt in Monterey last week. Eggs, over easy, rye toast, bacon extra crispy. It's my eat-out, go-to breakfast. A little pricey, but it was a nice place, with a view of the golf course. I always wonder why a view of the golf course is such a big draw. It was pretty enough, even in Monterey's seemingly perpetual overcast. Maybe I'd have a treat and see some golfer turn red, and toss his clubs into the water hazard. Water hazard. People really pay money to play a game where they construct "hazards"?
I noticed the eggs. It's not the kind of thing one usually notices. I mean, it's just eggs. You eat them, you like them, but who notices them? I noticed these because they were perfect. Yolks thickened and golden, whites just set, buttered enough to taste buttery but not at all greasy. Mouth wateringly tender. Bursting with the flavors of butter, egg, sparks of pepper and nothing else.
The Hyatt made me perfect eggs.And of course, as a foodie, I wanted to run home immediately and figure out how to do this! But it would have to wait.
A few days later, I was at home, rummaging about, looking for inspiration on what to do for dinner. Those perfect eggs over easy came to mind.
As a foodie will tell you, "something simple, perfected" takes a lot of experiments. Pretty good, really good, even excellent you can do in a couple of tries but perfect takes some obsessive experimentation. Not this time. I got it just about right * the first time. The elements for this success were:
- Low heat. Fried eggs require some heat to deliver a crisped edge, but over-easy is all about tenderness. Eggs like to be coddled. Firm them slowly so they squeeze out very little water and the proteins denature just enough to set. Just as the whites set, the yolks are warmed enough to brighten and thicken.
- Butter: The trick is to use more than you need but to leave much of it in the pan. The egg kind of poaches in the butter, absorbing enough for flavor, shedding the excess as it leaves the pan. About half the butter remains behind.
- Salt and pepper, and that's all.
Eggs Over Easy2 eggs
1 T butter
Freshly ground pepper
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then lower to low and let it sit while you assemble the ingredients. Take your time, you want an even temperature, which takes 5 minutes or more.
Put butter in pan and swirl around as it melts. If the butter browns or smokes even in the slightest, even after some time, it's too warm. Lower the temperature, discard the butter and wipe the pan clean. Start over at a lower temperature.
Crack two eggs into the pan. Salt lightly and give it a couple of grinds of pepper. Then leave it alone. Wait. Don't touch anything. It will take several minutes. When the whites are set underneath, you can jiggle the pan a bit to make sure there is no sticking. (With this quantity of butter in a non-stick pan, that should not be a problem.) Some chefs spoon the melted butter over the egg but I found that unnecessary.
Wait until the whites are set underneath but still clear for a good 3/4" around the yolk. The eggs should be undercooked at this point with what looks like just a minute to go. Turn the eggs gently, but decisively, with a thin, silicone spatula. If you break one, no matter, just practice on the other one, then discard them and start over. Eggs are cheap and it will be just another five minutes to try again.
After you have successfully achieved flippage, wait ten seconds, then glide them onto the plate.