How to Cook the Perfect Egg in Every Style
Eggs are no doubt the star of any brunch menu no matter how they’re prepared, and it seems like they should be the easiest thing in the world to cook. But when it comes to poaching the perfect egg or slicing open that deliciously jammy yolk, it can be harder to accomplish than you’d think. With an ingredient so humble, it’s frustrating when it doesn’t turn out right. We decided to set the record straight once and for all by creating a guide for consistently perfect eggs in every style, and we’ve asked some of our favorite NYC brunch chefs for their tried, tested and perfected techniques.
James Beard once said, “To me, there are few things as magnificent as scrambled eggs, pure and simple, perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned.” So how do you perfectly cook scrambled eggs? Chef Matthew Kornfeld, an NYC-based chef who cut his teeth at city hot spots like The Modern and Blue Smoke, walked us through his process.
1. To start, crack the eggs into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Using a fork or whisk, whip the eggs until the whites and yolks are completely combined and fluffy. (Kornfeld says there’s no need to add milk or cream to the eggs, because if you whisk vigorously enough, air alone will help to make them super fluffy.)
2. Don’t let that air escape! Cooking the eggs immediately after whisking keeps them light, so get those whisked eggs into a nonstick pan heated to medium heat and coated a knob of melted butter.
3. For perfectly silky eggs, constantly move the eggs with a rubber spatula and scrape down the sides. “When the eggs are halfway to two-thirds done, turn off the heat and continue moving the eggs until they are no longer runny. This is professionally known as ‘carryover cooking,’ which occurs when food retains heat and continues to cook even after being removed from the heat source,” Kornfeld says. He recommends seasoning with salt and pepper once the eggs are nearly done.
The word frittata sounds fancy, but in reality, this dish is a perfect choice for a quick and easy brunch because it feeds a crowd with minimal ingredients and minimal effort. Traditionally, frittata is widely known as a crustless quiche and can include a variety of different add-ins, from cheese to peppers to pepperoni. Here’s what to do:
1. Liberally coat an oven-safe skillet or cast-iron pan in butter or olive oil. In a separate glass or metal bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Frittatas are at their best with some seasonal produce (like asparagus, leeks or ramps), a bit of salty meat (like bacon or prosciutto) and some briny cheese like feta or Parmesan. Be sure to cook the heartier fillings (like meats or thick, crunchy vegetables) before adding them to the egg mixture.
3. Slide the whisked eggs into the pan, then sprinkle on your toppings evenly so each slice gets a little bit of everything. Kornfeld suggests popping the pan into an oven preheated to about 275°F to 300°F, because the lower temperature allows for even, thorough cooking without any browning. Let cook until the egg is set and doesn’t move when you jiggle the pan.
3. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Ah, the humble hard-boiled egg. Perfect as a snack, a salad topping or the star of an egg salad sandwich. But how do you make it? This one’s easy.
1. Place your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Make sure not to overcrowd the pot so the heat has space to circulate and cook the eggs thoroughly. Place the pot on the stove top and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and cover the pot.
2. Set your timer for 10 minutes and let the eggs continue cooking, covered in the hot water, undisturbed. After 10 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place directly in a bowl of ice water.
4. Seven-Minute Jammy Eggs
Seven-minute jammy eggs are those ooey-gooey Instagrammable beauties you see all over the internet atop beds of greens or slices of avocado toast. Cynthia Chico, chef and kitchen manager at luxury hotel the Conrad New York Downtown, has a pretty straightforward method for getting them just right:
1. Carefully and slowly drop your eggs into a pot of boiling, unsalted water.
2. Set a timer for exactly 7 minutes, and when it goes off, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop any carryover cooking.
3. After the eggs have cooled down thoroughly, peel them gently and slice in half to reveal perfectly set egg whites with a luscious, jammy yolk.
There is perhaps no egg more synonymous with brunch than the mighty poached egg. Plump, pillowy and delicious, poached eggs can be super intimidating even for an experienced home chef—but with a little practice, you can get it down.
1. Use a small saucepan so you can easily control the water, the heat and the whirlpool (we’ll get to that in a minute). Add a few tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and a sprinkle of kosher salt to the water, Chico says.
2. Crack your eggs into small ramekins or bowls, keeping each egg separate. Using a spoon, spin the water carefully to create that little whirlpool we mentioned, then slowly slide the eggs into the whirlpool one by one, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Stir a few more times so that the wispy white bits circulate around the yolk, causing it to congeal and come together as one.
3. Depending on your preference, let the egg sit in the water for 5 to 9 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon.
4. Before serving, place the egg on a paper towel to drain any excess water. Season with salt and pepper and you’re ready to serve!
6. Poaching in Sauce
Poaching eggs in a sauce (like shakshuka) is a fantastic way to make a creative, flavorful brunch dish that can be served directly from the pan it’s made in. We asked chef Tomer Blechman of Brooklyn’s Miss Ada for his best practices:
1. Much like poaching in water, you should crack your eggs into smaller bowls so they’re ready to slide into your sauce. No matter what sauce you’re using (we’re partial to a spicy tomato sauce), make sure it is heated thoroughly in a nonstick or cast-iron pan.
2. Once it comes up to a simmer, slowly drop in the eggs and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Blechman suggests covering the pan and allowing the eggs to simmer until the whites are completely set and the yolks are creamy.
7. Sunny-Side Up
Sunny-side up eggs are a classic at any diner and are a fast way to enjoy eggs on their own, on top of a burger or even on a breakfast pizza. Luckily for us, they’re also some of the easiest eggs to prepare.
1. Start with a nonstick pan over medium heat and a little bit of butter. Crack the eggs into the pan. (Keep in mind that the more eggs you add to the pan, the more difficult it will be to get them out.)
2. Once the eggs are in the pan, season with salt and pepper. Allow the eggs to cook, undisturbed, for about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until the whites are completely set and the yolks are still runny. The best way to test doneness? Give the pan a shake! If the whites jiggle, you need more time. If they stay in place, you’re good to go.
8. Over Easy
Over easy eggs differ from their sunny side up counterparts because they are flipped, giving them an opportunity to cook on both sides while maintaining a soft, runny yolk. Here’s what to do:
1. Heat a non-stick pan (an 8- to 10-inch pan should do the trick for two eggs) to medium heat and add a knob of butter. Once the butter is melted, crack in the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Leave the eggs undisturbed until the whites are nearly set, with a ring of unset whites surrounding the yolk.
2. Gently yet briskly slide a wide, flat spatula under the egg (one at a time!) and carefully flip, yolk side down. Cook for another 30 seconds or so then season with some pepper and slide on to a plate, ready to serve!
9. Spanish Fried Eggs
Spanish fried eggs, otherwise known as huevos fritos, are eggs that are fried very quickly in super hot oil, resulting in crispy, crunchy edges surrounding light, delicate whites with runny yolks.
1. Heat about ¼ inch olive oil in a heavy pan over medium to high heat.
2. Crack your eggs into a ramekin, and once the oil is hot, slide the eggs in so that they are almost submerged. Using a metal spoon, quickly spoon oil over the eggs so that it almost achieves a deep-fry technique.
3. Reduce the heat and continue spooning oil over the eggs for about 1 to 1 1/2 [[set fraction]] minutes. Remove the eggs using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate, then season with salt and pepper.
Making your first omelet is certainly a daunting task, but with a few tips and tricks, we’re confident the omelet can become part of your weekly breakfast rotation in no time.
1. Start small. To get the hang of things, start with a two-egg omelet in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Crack the eggs into a metal or glass bowl, then whisk together until frothy (just like Kornfeld taught us to do when scrambling eggs) and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat your nonstick skillet over low to medium heat and add about a tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, slide the eggs into the pan and let them cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes and until the bottom starts to set.
3. Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the omelet and gently push the egg and tilt the pan to allow the liquid to flow underneath. Repeat this step, agitating the egg as little as possible, until no liquid remains.
4. Using your rubber spatula, gently flip the egg over to continue cooking for a few more seconds on the other side. Add any toppings you like (anything from herbs to feta to poached lobster meat would work here) and then fold one side over the other. That’s it!