EGGS 101

There is nothing like the question, “How do I cook the perfect egg?”, that is more likely to devolve into a heated argument about one’s pedigree.

A perfectly cooked egg is special. A little package of flavour, nutrients, and energy with one of the most pleasing shapes in nature and the cause of countless kitchen battles about the definitive method to get you there.


To fry an egg without breaking the yolk is best learned by simple practice: by frying a lot of eggs.

However, there are some tips that will make the frying experience much more relaxed.

Number one is equipment. There are many tools out there purporting to make frying easier and if you want to get some special egg rings or whatever no one is stopping you. But more equipment means unnecessarily complicating a simple operation and also means more washing up. For the simplest egg frying you will need nothing more than a well-seasoned cast-iron pan and a spatula (either steel or heat resistant silicone). I avoid non-stick cookware for a couple of reasons: most is poorly made and won’t last long and the coating will eventually come off; and I don’t want whatever the non-stick surface is getting into my food. A good cast iron pan will last almost forever. I know one home cook who is still using a pan made before the Canadian Pacific railroad was started.

We’ve all run into the problem of our eggs sticking to the pan and the fix for this is simple: heat. Most home cooks don’t heat the cookware anywhere near hot enough and that is the number one problem most cooks run into, whether it’s steak, vegetables, or eggs.

//photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Place your well-seasoned cast-iron pan on the stove top and turn the heat up to medium high. For most people this means higher than you think I’ve suggested. Once the pan is hot you will want to add your fat.

Fat is very important. You want one with a high smoke point so avoid olive oil (although you can drizzle that on once the eggs hit the plate; there is nothing that olive oil doesn’t improve). I like to use duck or bacon fat if I have it on hand, or a cooking oil (vegetable, corn, canola are usually pretty neutral oils you can use). But for a bit more bang, I generally use ghee or clarified butter. You can make your own if you have the time but it is now available at most grocery stores in the international or natural foods aisle.

Add your fat to the hot pan.

Get a bowl (or two) and crack your eggs into it. I do this to avoid egg shells getting into the pan. I can just dig them out of the bowl.

Now gently pour your eggs from the bowl into the pan. They should sizzle immediately. If they don’t, you know you have to turn the heat up next time. The fat and the heat will prevent the egg proteins from sticking to the pan.

At this point it’s up to you how you want them done. Take care if you flip them to not break the yolks. Once they are done to your liking remove from the pan with your spatula and season.


There are many ways to get this perfect whole egg. You can steam, pressure cook, even bake them in the shell. But the simplest is to boil them.

Even here there is a debate about whether you add the eggs to cold water and then bring the water to boil or do you add the eggs to already boiling water? Do you use new eggs or old eggs? Some cooks advocate adding salt, baking soda, or even vinegar to the water as these extras can help the shell separate from the whites. But adding ingredients to something this simple is completely unnecessary.

My money is on adding cold eggs to already boiling water. That’s it. You need a pot, some water, and eggs. The one extra I suggest having in your kitchen is either a slotted spoon, ami jakushi, or cooking spider on hand to help place the eggs in the boiling water carefully so as not to crack the shell.

Also, adding cold eggs to boiling water makes the shell easier to remove.

Time is the only other ingredient you will have to deal with, so have a timer on hand to use.

Fill a pot with water, enough to cover your eggs, no more. Bring to a boil. Carefully add your eggs.

Now for timing:
For the perfect hard boiled egg—10 minutes.
For a slightly glossy yolk—eight to nine minutes.
For soft boiled—seven to seven-and-a-half minutes.

It’s very important you don’t crowd the pot for two reasons: you don’t want to significantly lower the temperature of the water by adding a dozen cold eggs as it will completely throw off your timing; and too many eggs will end up dancing around in the boiling water, prematurely cracking the shells.

Once the timer has sounded, take the pot off the heat immediately and put it under cold running water, pouring off the hot water as you do so.

The eggs will still be hot but once they are at a comfortable temperature take one out of the water and gently tap it on the inside wall of your sink. Once it starts to crack I like to roll it on the sink wall till the shell is completely broken up. Peel and rinse quickly to get rid of any little bits of shell. If you have soft boiled them go extra gentle on the cracking and peeling stage.


Finally, this method takes a little more time and attention than the other two but the results are absolutely worth it. You won’t want to have scrambled eggs any other way again. This method creates a creamy egg that lends itself to all sorts of additions like buttered toast, avocado, fried tomatoes, prosciutto, and even lobster or crab.
I’ll leave the extras to your discretion.

Serves four
9 – 10 eggs
4 Tbsp ice cold butter cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
Salt and pepper
Chopped chives

Crack eggs into a cold heavy pan (you can use steel for this one). Set on the stove top on low heat.
Add half the butter.
Stir with a silicone spatula, breaking up the yolks and mixing thoroughly.
Keep stirring. As the eggs begin to set add the remaining butter. The eggs will become lumpy but try not to let them set too much. Keep moving them on and off the heat as needed.
They are ready for the plate when they are the consistency of thick custard. Just before plating add crème fraiche on top and sprinkle with chives.
Serve on hot buttered toast.

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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