The perfect egg is a puzzle. Professional chefs, and even scientists, disagree on how to make the best eggs; home cooks simply have a tendency to overcook them. Bottom line: "It's all personal taste," says the great David Waltuck, James Beard award-winning chef-owner of élan, his highly anticipated new restaurant opening this summer in New York City. Waltuck has been making eggs all his life, even before he and his wife, Karen, brought fine dining downtown with their acclaimed restaurant Chanterelle, which closed for good in 2009. Understandably, he has deep knowledge of what works best. "Mastering the art of cooking an egg requires a little patience," Waltuck says. "It's difficult to do a lot at the same time, but with practice it becomes easier." Here, he teaches us how to make gorgeous eggs in six classic ways, and he offers one easy but fabulous recipe for shirred (baked) eggs with ham and tomato.
How to Fry Eggs
Fried eggs are often overcooked. Ease up and cook them gently, says Waltuck. Use nonstick pans, if you want to make the process easier on yourself. But add a little butter. When it's warmed, but not brown, add the eggs and gently cook them over a low flame until they are nearly set. Season with salt and pepper. Make over-easy eggs – Waltuck's favorite – by "flicking" the eggs over for a second. Take them to the next level by throwing a splash of your favorite vinegar (balsamic, red vinegar, apple) into the pan with whatever butter is left, which transforms the eggs into what the French call the "assassin's egg." Or take this sauce over the top by first browning the butter left in the pan then mixing it with a splash of vinegar. Use a tablespoon to repeatedly baste the eggs with either of these pan sauces.
For classic sunny-side-up eggs, cook the eggs gently for 2–3 minutes, but this time with a tight lid on top; this will cause a glaze to form over the upward-facing eggs. The cover allows the white and the yolk to set at approximately the same time, which is a feat.
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