I have memories of fried eggs from when I was a child. The egg and bacon rolls of my youth involved hot plates that had seen better days. Everything coming off the grill tasted of meat juice, and not in a good way. Why I’d always order an egg and bacon roll is beyond me, I knew the whites would be crisp and tasteless, and the yolk would always be questionably runny (until a few years ago I preferred my eggs completely hard – “dead eggs”, as my family ineloquently (and rather insensitively) puts it). Now I adore a runny yolk (just as long as the white is hard, am I right?!), but back then it had to be solid for me to enjoy them. The egg would inevitably be served, slapped into a white roll, with strips of bacon that were far too pink and far too fatty for my apparently fussy ten-year-old self. Ughhhhhhh. Fried eggs? No, thank you.
And so I steered clear of fried eggs, leaning my preferences towards the boiled and poached varieties. As the years crept by, my demand for a hard yolk changed to tolerance of a bit of wobble, which later developed into a love for runny, gooey, golden yolks. With age comes wisdom. When brunching, I like my poached and boiled eggs served “runny, please”. And at home, softly folded scrambled eggs are my favourite, well-seasoned with salt or sometimes in place of salt a sharp cheese, like parmesan or taleggio, cheddar or goat. And then last year, something happened. I began to appreciate, fried eggs. No, no, no, “appreciate” doesn’t really convey my true affection, let’s try that again. Last year, I began to love, adore and crave fried eggs. So much so that they are now my lunchtime staple, with sourdough toast and a good smash of avocado. The reason for this flip? Butter.
I don’t know why, but at some point last year my husband started adding a generous, very generous, portion of butter to his famous-within-our-family scrambled eggs. I wasn’t about to complain, I mean, I adore butter and have been rather fanatical about the stuff ever since my first trip to France. Ben and I choose to spend money on quality, organic butter, like this brand, (because there is a delicious difference between butters) and we cook with it regularly, whether making a sauce for our vegetables (hello, bagna cauda), spreading it on toast or making eggs. One morning he put a pat of butter in the pan to make us some breakfast. Mesmerised, I cracked an egg over the melting butter and just left it there, turning the heat up so I could have this butter + egg situation in my life asap. In a matter of minutes I had cooked and devoured the most delicious, buttery fried eggs and would henceforth request my eggs to always be “fried, please. In butter”.
To get my personal, perfect, buttery fried egg you need to work fast. Melting the butter is simple, but I like a crisp edge and to do that you need quick heat. Feel free to flip the egg (use a spatula, not a wooden spoon as was hastily grabbed in this situation) if you want a slightly harder yolk. Leave it on the pan for just a moment to seal the golden stream, and simply let it linger longer if you want a firmer situation. These days, as you can tell from my photographs (which were taken while holding Joan as Ben cooked – real life for you), I tend to let my yolk cook so it remains only slightly soft, the reason being my baby. Often I am called to action before I can wash my hands, you see, and messy yolks cause a sticky finger situation. I suppose I could just start using cutlery. There’s a thought…
Buttery Fried Eggs
1 large Free range* egg
A knob of organic salted butter**
1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter starts to bubble, crack in the egg.
2. Cook the egg for one to two minutes until the edges start to brown and the white is cooked-through. Regarding the yolk, if you want a super runny yolk then do nothing. If you’d like it hard, then flip the egg and leave it until cooked-through. If you like it slightly runny, either flip it and leave it for only a moment or leave it sunny side up but put a lid over the pan to allow the yolk to steam through until as hard as you wish. Turn down the heat when cooking the yolk through so you don’t end up with overcooked or burnt egg whites.
* Always buy eggs from farms that look after their chickens. Rarely do I force a topic, but this is non-negotiable, as Factory Farming is completely horrifying and we should never support it. Read more thoughts here.
** If you want to know more about why buying organic and biodynamic matters in terms of dairy, read this article. You’ll be rewarded by the taste, for sure, but you will also be making a real difference in choosing to support more thoughtful, environmentally friendly and humane farming. And to read more of my thoughts on full-fat dairy, read this post here.