The Perfect Fried Egg

The first thing I learned how to cook was an egg. Scrambled eggs, to be precise. Shortly after, without much thought or instruction, I moved on to the fried egg. For the last ten years I've been frying up eggs like nobody's business, totally oblivious to the fact that I've been doing it all wrong. I've just shrugged off the broken yolks and crusty frying pans, blissfully ignorant to the way things could be. But all of this changed yesterday, when I finally stumbled upon a new technique - one that is simple enough to evoke a palm-to-face, "A-ha!" Please don't smirk if this seems too easy or obvious, but here is the "recipe" in case anyone is as equally misguided.

perfect fried egg

The Perfect Fried Egg
Tutorial from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients: two eggs, 1 1/2 tsp. butter, salt and pepper.
  1. Heat a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. While the pan is warming up, carefully crack one egg into a cup and be sure to preserve the yolk.
  3. If you want a separate egg, crack it into a separate cup. Never fry more than two eggs at once.
  4. Add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan. Let it melt and foam. Swirl the pan to coat. If the butter turns brown, the pan is too hot, so turn down the heat.
  5. Holding the cup close to the frying pan's surface, pour eggs into the pan.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and cook for 2 minutes for runny yolks. (2 1/2 minutes for set yolks; 3 minutes for firmly set yolks)
  8. For eggs over easy, use a spatula to flip. Cook an additional 30 seconds.
  9. Slide eggs onto plate and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Home Fries

This is my own recipe, inspired by the home fries you can order in diners. Instead of potatoes, I used sweet potatoes and added a bit of heat with smoked paprika and a fat pinch of cayenne. I think the trick is to boil the potatoes first, then fry them, to achieve the crispy outer layer.

Ingredients: 1 lb. sweet potatoes (peeled and diced into 1/2 cubes), 1 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil, 1 tbsp butter, 1 1/4 tsp. table salt, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, fresh ground pepper and fresh chives.

  1. Place diced sweet potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1/2 inch water. Add 1 tsp. salt, and place over high heat. As soon as water begins to boil, remove from heat and drain potatoes in a colander.
  2. Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil and cook until butter starts to foam.
  3. Add sweet potatoes and give the skillet a good shake to evenly distribute potatoes in a single layer (very important!); make sure that one side of each piece is touching surface of skillet.
  4. Cook without stirring until potatoes are golden brown on bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully turn potatoes with spatula. Spread potatoes in single layer again and repeat process until potatoes are tender and browned on all sides, turning three to four times, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  6. Add paprika, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cayenne, chives and pepper to taste.
* Serves 4. If you'd like more home-fries, I recommend making a second batch to prevent from over-crowding the pan. Store the first batch on a cookie sheet in the oven set to warm.


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