when you have backyard chickens you discover the divine pleasure of a perfectly cooked, fried egg straight out of the nesting box. and by perfectly cooked, i mean crispy edges with tender whites ( not snotty! not overcooked! ) and runny yolks. it’s a tough trick to get the trifecta of crispy, tender and runny and i could never get it consistently until i read this cooks illustrated fried egg recipe ( great magazine, highly recommended ).
it explains that yolks and whites set at different temperatures. yolks set at 158F and whites set at 180F, so the trick is getting the whites to cook before the yolks. you can get the whites to set first using the “hot and fast” method by using a fat with a high smoke point. drop the eggs in a sizzling hot, hot, hot pan and the whites set before the yolks know what hit ’em.
the cooks illustrated recipe recommends using a vegetable oil, but what has a higher smoke point than almost any vegetable oil and has a delicious buttery taste that you want with a fried egg? ghee ( aka clarified butter )! throw in a few tablespoons of butter into the pan right as you add the eggs to add a boost of extra butteryness. awesome eggs every time.
you can take this general philosophy to its logical conclusion and jump right on the crispy egg train.
– preheat ghee in skillet on low heat for 5 minutes
– crack 2 eggs in bowl and season with salt and pepper
– turn up heat to medium-high until sizzling hot ( and! i! mean! sizzling! )
– add butter and quickly swirl around pan ( this is a little tricy because you don’t want to burn the butter. act fast and don’t burn yourself ).
– pour eggs from bowl into skillet ( they should just about explode when they hit the oil )
– cover skillet and cook for 1 minute ( that’s right, just 1 minute )
– remove from heat and let stand covered – about 30 seconds will get you runny yolks, 60 seconds will get you soft set yolks and a few minutes will yield medium set yolks.
i typically let sit until the layer surrounding the yolk turns white which is a good indicator the whites are completely done and i avoid serving snotty eggs. at that point the yolks are right between runny and very soft-set.