Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dirty Fried Eggs

Dirty fried eggs is the name I gave them - eggs fried in bacon drippings that gives them that speckled look from all the bacon yum-yums gathered on the bottom of the skillet.

Okay, yeah, it's just fried eggs, but indulge me for a bit would ya? I love eggs. I love all kinds of eggs. Deviled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, poached eggs, just plain old boiled eggs, egg salad with shrimp, with ham, and with tuna, eggs on huevos, in quiche, in a hash, as migas, in a breakfast casserole, a quesadilla, on a BLT, and yeah, even on a po'boy! Yep. I do love eggs.

But, this post here - this is just about fried eggs and specifically Dirty Fried Eggs. Aw, heck. Might as well make this post a minor 101 about fried eggs, and then show y'all how we do a proper dirty fried egg down here in The Deep South! After all there are folks who pass through here that are just learnin' to cook, right?

A fried egg is an egg that has been cooked in a skillet using butter or a bit of fat, but with the yolk left intact, unlike a scrambled egg, which while also fried in a pan with fat, is beat, or scrambled, either before or after being put in the skillet. I prefer to use butter only when scrambling eggs, but not when frying, since butter doesn't have a very high flash point for frying. I cook my fried eggs in some kind of oil, but you can then top it with just a bit of butter after cooking it to get the flavor, which is much more appealing to me.

An egg that is simply cracked in the pan and cooked only on one side is called "Sunny Side Up" since the yolk is predominant and looks a bit like the sun. When I do a sunny side up egg, I use an egg turner to splash some of the hot oil over the top of the egg to make sure that the whites are cooked through. When cooking an egg sunny side up, it does take a bit of practice not to burn the underside of your egg, or the outside edges,  but practice makes perfect, so I say, just eat more eggs! They are a nutritional powerhouse, afterall. You can also add a splash of water to the skillet and cover it, but that produces a different sort of texture to me and is just not the same, though that step does come in handy when I do a fully stuffed omelet - and I'm not talking about the speed demon omelets that Julia Child whipped up in her day. I like thick fluffy omelets, almost a souffle type of omelet, not thin crepe like omelets, and as many omelets as I've made in my life, I've never been about to get a thick, fluffy, perfect and not browned omelet in only split seconds. Guess we like things a bit sloooower in The South.

I do love omelets and I love scrambled eggs, but most of the time when I eat fried eggs, I do what is called an "over" egg and depending on how long you prefer the egg yolk cooked, would be "Over Easy," sometimes called eggs up, where the yolks are runny, "Over Medium" where the yolk is partially cooked through but with some runny yolk, or "Over Hard" or over well, where the yolks are cooked completely through. The Cajun will only eat an egg that is over hard, with the yolk fully cooked.

I have learned that if you order fried eggs Sunny Side Up in a restaurant, you might receive those eggs with the whites also not fully cooked. That to me is gross and not at all a proper Sunny Side Up egg, so I always ask for over easy eggs when eating out.

I love over easy eggs, despite the fact that people get all freaked out about eating eggs with runny yolks. I've been eating them this way all of my life and well, I'm still here, and I can say that I have never (knock on wood yet) gotten sick from eating fried eggs this way. Your mileage may vary. When I eat them on a sandwich or a homemade egg muffin, I tend to like the yolks a little more cooked, mostly because it makes it much easier to eat without yolk running down your hands!

Another favorite fried egg I love is known by many names around the world, but I call it Birds in a Nest. Birds in a Nest are made by cutting a hole into a slice of bread, then placing the bread into a hot skillet with either butter or fat and dropping the egg into the hole. Once the egg is slightly set, you flip it over to cook the whites on the other side.

Fried eggs are great as a BLT (one of my favorite sandwiches), on a homemade Egg McMuffin sandwich (another favorite that I love), and on fresh, made from scratch biscuits, but my favorite way to eat fried eggs is to make 'em DIRTY. Even better. It absolutely, positively must involve bacon! So, first you gotta fry up a bit of bacon and for, cooking eggs, I prefer to use a non-stick skillet. Feel free to grab your cast iron skillet instead though, I am just fond of my non-stick skillet in this case. Once that bacon reaches the level of crispness you like, remove it and let it drain on some paper towels. Leave the bacon fat in the pan, because that is going to be our fat to cook the eggs in.

See those yummy yum yums in the bottom of the pan left from the bacon? Oh yeah... On top of that I add just a splash of canola oil.

And then crack your eggs into the skillet. I also prefer to salt and pepper my eggs while they are cooking instead of afterward. When the outside of the egg is cooked like this, but the yolk and the center of the whites are still raw, I turn the eggs.

And look at that! This is why I call them "Dirty Eggs."  the underside of the egg picks up the bacon yum yums from the skillet. Okay it's not the healthiest thing to do with fried eggs, and no I don't eat them this way all the time, but oh my goodness is it good. Once I turn the eggs, I cook them only just enough to cook the whites, but not the yolk.

Plate those beauties with that side of bacon and, of course...

... some kind of toasted bread vessel, why, for dipping in those yolks, of course!  Breakfast, brunch or even breakfast for dinner, oh yeah - that my friends is a Dirty Fried Egg! Helloooooooo lover.

Of course, you could use that for one of these...

or cook that yolk a little further too, for one of these delectable breakfast sandwiches too.

Or perhaps, one of these homemade egg muffins!