How To Cook An Egg

"How to Cook an Egg" was requested by one of my e-newsletter subscribers. Having been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, I was not surprised by the request. I have actually met chefs who could not properly cook an egg, let alone cook an over easy egg.

This request started me thinking about my egg cooking experiences.

High school home economics class was my only real experience before I was married and I guess that didn't sink in.

The only thing I remember about eggs in that class was making Eggs ala Goldenrod (which I still love) and beating an egg and then measuring it in tablespoons for the purpose of making a recipe that required half an egg. I never, ever came across another recipe requiring half an egg.

And I never learned how to cook an egg.

So basically as a new (young) bride I had to start from scratch. I married a very finicky egg eater and after being scolded for imperfect over easy eggs, I began throwing eggs away if they weren't "just right."

I must have ended up throwing away dozens of eggs while perfecting my egg cooking skills. I thought I must be a slow learner. I just had to learn how to cook an egg! Had he known, my thrifty, finicky husband would have lectured me about wasting food. But as the words of the song "Margaritaville" say, I thought it was "his own darn fault." I never did reveal my secret.

Practice does make perfect, as it is said, and eventually I learned how to cook an egg.

After the death of my first husband (no, not my cooking), I married another wonderful man. I was pleased that I could cook perfect over easy eggs for him. Being the thoughtful man he is, he didn't mention for some time that he really preferred his eggs over hard.

Oh, the cruelties of life! I don't mind saying that it was very hard for me to break those yolks!

How To Cook An Egg - Begin With Quality
I always start with fresh, organic AA eggs. The taste and color difference in organic eggs is noticeably better. The three grades of eggs listed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are: AA, A and B. The best Grade is AA which has a firm yolk and white that can stand up high when broken onto a flat surface and does not spread over a large area.

How To Cook An Egg - Maintain Quality
Eggs keep for weeks in the refrigerator, but lose quality quickly if held at room temperature. In fact, eggs can lose a full grade in one day at warm kitchen temperatures. Why pay for Grade AA eggs if they are Grade B by the time you use them?

The Egg Pan Is Important
I use high quality non-stick pans with sloping sides to cook eggs and I use these pans for nothing else (dedicated to eggs, they are). The pan should have a metal handle so it can be put under the broiler for finishing certain egg dishes.

The size of the pan depends on whether you like thick or thin omelets or on how many fried or scrambled eggs you normally cook at one time. A 7 - 8 inch pan will make thicker omelets and will fry 2 - 3 eggs. A 10 inch pan will make thinner omelets and will fry 4 large eggs.

How To Cook An Egg - Fried Eggs, Omelets, Frittatas, and Scrambled Eggs
I love to cook eggs in butter for superior flavor. However, butter burns easily so I use half butter and half peanut oil. If peanut oil is unavailable, or not in your pantry, use vegetable oil. Blending in a little oil will keep the butter from burning and will give the eggs great flavor and color.

It is best to have the eggs at room temperature just before cooking so take them out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to begin cooking the eggs.

How To Cook An Egg - Avoid High Temperatures and Long Cooking Times
Keep in mind that you should cook eggs on gentle heat. Stove temperatures vary, so you will have to find the correct temperature on your own unit. If the fat (oil) you use is not hot enough, the eggs will spread too much and may stick. If it is too hot, the eggs will become tough or even crisp. If the temperature is right, the eggs should set quickly at the edges. At this point, reduce the heat to low and finish cooking the eggs to your liking.

Cooking eggs? I learned my lesson. Understand how to do it and then practice will make perfect, even if your spouse is a finicky eater.

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About The Author, Donna Hager
Donna Hager has owned and operated an American-style restaurant for over two decades. More articles can be found in her e-newsletter, "What's Cookin'?" and on her website that features real restaurant recipes, menus, cooking tips, and much more at Real Restaurant Recipes.Donna is also the author of the new e-cookbook, "Real Restaurant Recipes."