It's the most important meal of the day, and as far as the perfect breakfast, it's hard to beat an egg. If you ask many of the world's greatest chefs what the ultimate mark of someone who knows how to cook, they'll say, "have them make me an egg."
See, on the one hand, eggs are simple: there's the white, there's the yolk, you heat it, and you eat it. But on the other hand, an egg's unique two-part structure means there's a lot going on, and plenty to mess up.
But we say a perfectly cooked egg is a skill worth figuring out. They've become synonymous with breakfast for a reason: it's good to eat protein and a little fat in the morning; it helps you feel full, and gives you more zip than carbohydrates like cereal or a muffin alone. And though we all need to watch our cholesterol, eating whole eggs are important. The yolk contains lots of nutrients, including those all-important antioxidants and omega-3s. As long as you don't eat more than two yolks a day, most healthy men will be okay. (I usually do one whole egg and one white).
And, of course, the luxury: there's nothing better to swipe up with a piece of toast, or mix in with the rest of your plate. So, we're taking the position that making the perfect fried, sunny-side up is a skill we think every guy should have, and here's the easy trick to do it:
Use the oven. The hard part about a sunny-side up egg, or any runny presentation, is cooking the whites until set without breaking or overcooking the yolk. Traditional wisdom says use a lid on your skillet, but I find that doesn't really help the whites to set much better. Others say baste them in butter, which I'm sure will work, but that's a little rich for an average weekday breakfast that already includes egg yolks. So? The oven.
How to: Cook a Perfect Sunny-Side Up Egg
My very favorite thing about this method is it requires little-to-no work once the egg is in the pan. Just heat the skillet, crack the shell, and let the oven do the work while you make your morning coffee or tea.
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place an oven-proof skillet on the range over medium heat to pre-heat the bottom of the pan, without heating the sides or handle. (Most skillets, even non-stick, are oven safe at this temperature, but check to be sure. Or, go the ManMade route and use a cast iron skillet, which is guaranteed to work.)
Step Two: Once your oven and pan are heated, place a little oil or butter in the pan (spray is fine), and carefully crack or lower your egg(s) in the skillet. Use a spatula to contain the flow, making a little wall of cooked white to control the spread.
Step Three: Place the skillet in the oven, and allow to cook until the whites are set. The gentle convection of oven will cook the top of the egg, while the conduction of the pre-heated skillet cook the bottom of the egg, creating the little flavorful crispy bits. Season and enjoy.
So, the actual work involved here is, like, 30 seconds. The trick to learn is how long you oven takes to preheat to 350°, and when you need to place your skillet the heat. You could pre-heat the skillet in the oven, but I find that the direct heat of the burner gets the skillet perfectly hot to set the white so it doesn't run all around the pan when you add the egg. It works for me; experiment with the best routine for your kitchen.
If you like your yolks a little more done, this method works equally well. Just leave the pan in a little longer until the yolk has thickened, and the bottom has started to coagulate. If you like your eggs well done and completely cooked, you can use this method as well, but it may help to flip your egg once (over well) to make sure the yolk is cooked through. Setting the yolk this way will prevent it from breaking on the flip.
Give it a shot, and let us know how it goes in the comments below. Good morning!