by Mary Brown Malouf | photos by Adam Finkle
One look at today’s most mouth-watering menus and it’s clear chefs are cracking a lot more eggs.
This sunny-faced food seems to be topping almost every dish leaving the kitchen.
A hamburger, a plate of asparagus, a stack of pancakes and even a pile of pasta—they are all being lifted a notch when topped with a simple fried egg. And they’re not alone. More and more dishes are enjoying the emulsified texture of a runny yolk as it becomes a sauce, enriching and complementing pretty much everything beneath.
Egg Fry 101
Fernand Point’s Perfect Fried Egg
Chef Fernand Point (1897–1955) is often called the father of modern French cuisine. Like all famous French chefs, he had fanatically strong opinions about how to perform the seemingly simplest kitchen tasks, like frying an egg.
“Place a lump of fresh butter in a pan or egg dish and let it melt—that is, just enough for it to spread, and never, of course, to crackle or sit; open a very fresh egg onto a small plate or saucer and slide it carefully into the pan; cook it on heat so low that the white barely turns creamy, and the yolk becomes hot but remains liquid; in a separate saucepan, melt another lump of fresh butter; remove the egg onto a lightly heated serving plate; salt it and pepper it, then very gently pour this fresh, warm butter over it.” –Fernand Point
Much is made of whether an egg is fresh or stale, because the fresher the egg, the better the taste and, some say, the higher the nutritional value. Note: We’re not talking about rotten eggs here, just relative freshness. Traditionally, eggs were inspected by “candling;” the egg was held up to a candle for a glimpse of what was inside the shell. Now hand-packed eggs may be inspected by holding them in front of an intense light.
So what do egg inspectors look for?
- A small, stable air space between the white and the shell. This space shrinks as the egg ages.
- A thick, cloudy white that can obscure the yolk. The egg white thins and clears as it ages.
- A fresh egg doesn’t rattle when it’s shaken gently; the white is thick and cushions the yolk.
- There should be no blood spots.
So what are the benefits of farm-fresh eggs?
- Farm-fresh eggs are more flavorful.
- Farm-fresh egg yolks are generally deeper yellow than factory egg yolks.
- Farm-fresh egg yolks are generally fuller and feature more pronounced mounds.
- Farm-fresh egg whites are clearer, less watery and mount higher when whipped.
- Farm-fresh egg yolks are less likely to break when cracked.
- Farm-fresh eggs are nutritionally superior, says a study done by Mother Earth News in 2007.
Egg lovers rejoice. Today’s selection of cooking tools extends far beyond the spatula.
Single egg poacher, $7, Williams-Sonoma, SLC
Poach Pods, $10/set of 2, Spoons ‘n Spice, SLC
Egg Fry Rings, $15/set of 4, Williams-Sonoma, SLC
Egg rings, $5, Spoons ‘n Spice, SLC