Tuesday, September 4, 2007

All American Breakfast, for One-- An Essay

by Xani

Sometimes, on a lazy weekend, there's nothing I like better than whipping up a little breakfast. I usually don't get around to doing this til noon or so, but hey, if its the first meal of the day, its breakfast. Especially if it involves sizzling bacon, perfect potatoes, and eggs done just the way I like them...

So on a recent Saturday that's just what I did! First step, bacon strips go in the pan over medium-high heat (I use a flat, non-stick griddle pan, with very short edges, i.e., not completely flat, or things will fall off the sides. Also, its big enough to cook several elements of the breakfast at once!). Once the bacon has cooked (I like mine pretty crispy) and rendered out its fat, remove the bacon from the pan and put on a paper towel-lined plate to drain (I suggest making an extra piece to nibble on while you cook the rest of the meal... hey, you know you want to!). Meanwhile, there will be puddles of delicious bacon fat sitting in the pan... this stuff is super-hot, so you want to carefully drain it into a heatproof dish. Some fat will remain in the pan. This is a good thing. You can keep the reserved fat nearby in case your pan dries out and needs more (this will definitely happen if you are cooking for more than one).

Next, the potatoes. I had boiled a few small, white potatoes the night before. They were completely cooked so I knew they would only take a few minutes in the pan (if you are going to start with raw potatoes don't try this method, but it would probably work with any leftover potatoes, baked, boiled, mashed [wow that sounds good, might need to try that sometime!] or in a pinch i have even used frozen tater tots which came out perfectly!). I cut them into chunks, skin and all, and threw them into the pan along with a handful of medium-diced onion, and some salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes and onions over medium heat. You eventually want to get them golden brown on all sides, and for the onions to be soft and aromatic... add more bacon fat if things start to get sticky. (Really, that should be my mantra for everything in life!)

Now, when the potatoes are almost done (maybe 5 minutes or so left), crowd them all onto one side of the pan. This is to free up space for the eggs. While some people think eggs are among the easiest things to prepare, I have always found them a challenge. Perhaps this is because I have BIG shoes to fill-- those of BCD Dad. Ever since I was a child, I have been a fan of his many egg preparations. Fluffy, creamy scrambled, perfect fried, and, hands-down, the best omelets I have ever had. No joke-- years ago I completely stopped ordering omelets in restaurants; no matter how many I tried they were never nearly as good as Dad's! BCD Mom often says that if things got really bad Dad could always get a job as a short-order cook!

So, over the years I've been trying to master his techniques. He shared with me his secret ingredients (basically lots of bacon fat or butter, or sometimes both) and his methods: very low heat for the scrambled eggs, very high heat for the omelets, the fillings, the flip, the fold... it's a lot to take in! But one preparation that I've finally mastered is the fried egg, and its one of my favorites.

Your pan should be over medium heat, potatoes on one side, other side liberally greased with bacon fat. Crack your first egg into a small bowl and then slide it carefully into the skillet (or if you are a daredevil like me, directly onto the hot pan-- potential tiny bits of shell be damned!). Repeat with the other egg (and so on, if you are making more than two, but don't overcrowd the pan or you won't have room to flip later). They will sizzle and begin to turn opaque on contact. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave them be for a minute or two (the non-stick pan/bacon fat will ensure they don't stick), except you may want to use your spatula to "tighten up" the whites (nudge them in toward the yolk, therefore making flipping easier). After a couple minutes the bottom of the eggs should be cooked (firm with light brown bits), the yolk will still be completely runny and there may be some gelatinous, uncooked white on top, too. If you are a sunny-side up person, you're on your own here... you can eat the sucker all raw and runny, or you can spoon some of the hot fat from the bottom of the pan and pour it over the top of the eggs in an attempt to get it a little more cooked. I never understood those sunny-side up people, anyway... for the rest of us, its time to flip. This part can be a little intimidating, but honestly, its not that hard once you practice a couple times. And, even if the yolk breaks, it all tastes the same anyway.

The whites from the two eggs have probably fused together-- use your spatula to cut them apart so you can flip them individually. Lift the edge of the egg, again it should be firm and slightly browned underneath. Slide your spatula completely underneath the egg, using the side of the pan to push the egg onto the spatula. The yolk will be wobbling and threatening to break, but don't let it get to you! Once the egg is completely on-board, use your wrist to gently flip the egg back into the pan (gently= hopefully not breaking the yolk. into the pan= onto a bare surface of the pan, i.e. not onto the other egg, the potatoes, the stovetop, or the floor). Repeat with the other egg. Success! Once the eggs have cooked on their flip side for 30 seconds or so, you will have eggs over easy. Another minute or two, eggs over medium. Cook the hell out of them, over hard (you can tell how cooked the yolk is be pressing lightly on the exposed yolk facing up-- if it feels completely liquid-y, it is. Keep checking them and eventually you will feel them begin to firm up and feel more like a hard-boiled egg).

Correct level of done-ness needed before flipping

Correct done-ness of yolk for over-medium eggs-- mostly cooked, very slightly runny-- why can they never get this right at the diner?!

Once you have cooked them to the desired done-ness simply use your spatula to lift them out of the pan and onto your plate. The potatoes should be nicely cooked by now, they go next to the eggs. Then a couple strips of the bacon (unless you already ate it all, you little piggie!). Accompany with toast, juice, coffee... whatever you like. If you are lucky enough to have a cute little patio and a gorgeous day, I highly recommend eating outside!

Hope you enjoyed my little essay/tutorial on All-American breakfast as much as I enjoyed cooking, eating, and writing about it! Sorry I couldn't provide more pictures-- breakfast for one means both hands were too busy cooking to take many pictures. How does everyone out there in Internet land like their eggs?



  1. Well, you know I don't like eggs, but this sounds easy enough. Just because I don't eat them doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to cook them, right?

  2. You should try sunnyside up. Heat on med. and cover for 4 - 6 minutes depending on how done you want your yolk. No tricky flipping, just eggy goodness.

  3. I love the idea of your blog! Very cute! Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

  4. over easy, but I rarely get the yolks right. I enjoy the variety though. :)

  5. I too am not an egg fan, unless it has a lot of other stuff with it like in a frittata. But I loved reading the technique tutorial!

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