Monday, January 21, 2008

A late breakfast ... eggs over splat

Not bad for a guy who's trying to cook, take pictures and nurse a mending leg at the same time. This is my first attempt to catch eggs over easy in motion.

With the camera on a tripod, I opened up the diaphragm to f/3.5 and set the ISO to 800 (hence, the graininess). On the Canon 350D kit lens, you can only use f/3.5 with the lens set at 18mm. I did this to achieve the fastest shutter speed possible (1/125 sec) without using the flash.

I then positioned the camera on the tripod without concern for composition. I figured I could crop the photo in post-processing. My goal was to have the lens at its widest to capture runaway eggs in the frame.

The trickiest park of the whole process is doing two things at once. The first pat of butter went down the drain as a burnt offering to the plumber. After cooling the skillet, I waited to melt the second pat until the camera was ready. Once the eggs were ready to flip, I maneuvered the skillet with my left hand while depressing the trigger in burst mode with my right.

For the record, both yokes broke as they pancaked into the skillet. The goal is to "raise the pan to meet them so that the exposed yolks experience the softest landing possible," advises Food Network host Alton Brown. It's difficult to control the action of the skillet when your attention is divided between two seemingly unrelated actions.
And save the pepper for the plate. The black streaks on the pair of eggs don't look that appealing.

I've adapted Alton Brown's classic recipe for eggs over easy to a cast iron chef's skillet (which really means I replaced the words "non-stick" with "well-seasoned cast iron" -- all else remains). A gentle wipe with paper towels after each use will preserve the slick skillet for many breakfasts. Clean the skillet while warm.

I reserve my Lodge Logic Chefs Skillet for eggs. That means nothing -- I mean nothing -- else gets cooked in the skillet. Use another skillet for pork chops.

2 eggs (the fresher the better)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Heat a small well-seasoned cast iron skillet with sloped sides over low heat and add butter. As soon as the butter stops foaming, crack the eggs into the pan. Lift the handle about an inch so that the eggs pool in the far corner of the pan. Hold for 30 seconds or until the whites start to set, then lower the handle and give the pan a jiggle just to make sure there's no sticking. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to cook over low heat until the whites become opaque.

Jiggle to loosen the eggs, then lift the pan, holding it about a foot above the heat. Now, flip the eggs over by pushing the pan away and snapping upward simultaneously. Once the eggs start their somersault, raise the pan to meet them so that the exposed yolks experience the softest landing possible.

The goal of course is to avoid breaking the yolks. If you succeed, count to 10 slowly then flip the eggs again, slide them onto a plate and serve. (Here's the best part ...) If the yolks do break, act like you meant them to, fry for another minute and serve. They'll still taste great.

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