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We know you're stubborn about your fried eggs -- so stubborn we couldn't write about one best method (we narrowed it down to 6).
But, friends, it's 2014, and it's time to try something new. Something that will startle you, then feel strangely familiar and comforting. This is the part where I ask you to change your ways, and put vinegar on your eggs.
It might not sound as welcome at 9am as butter or maple, but a measured shot of vinegar is surprisingly perfect at breakfast (just think about hot sauce -- we don't reach for it because it's like ketchup, but because it's like vinegar.)
More: Make your own Sriracha for next week's breakfasts.
Egg yolk is this wonder condiment we've been putting on everything -- salad, fried rice, spaghetti, everything. And why not? But yolk needs something to play against -- a spicy sauce to snake through; a buttered piece of toast in which to sink; crisp potatoes, salty meats.
Roger Vergé, one of the forefathers of nouvelle cuisine, knew this. The richness of yolk is tempered and shined up best by sitting next to a tart, cleansing foe -- the balance of soft and sharp acting like a good vinaigrette. "Fried eggs cooked in this way are, incidentally, among the most irresistible of all dishes," Vergé wrote in Cuisine of the Sun -- especially after a night with a few too many glasses of bubbly, when you need to straighten yourself out.
"Many is the time that I have suddenly had a longing for three fried eggs -- usually after midnight, when I am among friends, and guests who have finished dinner and are mulling away the evening with a liqueur," Vergé wrote, making all of us wish we could come over for eggs. "The sight of the eggs cooking is too much for them all, and they always end up by joining me. I know few dishes so powerful!"
Here's how it's done:
Vergé is quite specific -- crack 2 or 3 eggs in a bowl, then slide them together into a well-buttered 6-inch frying pan to form a pretty, sunny orb.
But you can apply this technique to your favorite fried egg method, whatever it may be. Just splash a couple tablespoons of vinegar into the hot, still-buttery pan as soon as the eggs come out. Let it reduce by half, then spill the resulting syrup over your eggs.
Deborah Madison's version swirls in some butter at the end with the vinegar, much like mounting a proper pan sauce. You can try this if you want to ease in, but you'll see it's not necessary once the yolk is unleashed.
Adapted slightly from Roger Vergé's Cuisine of the Sun (Macmillan, 1979)
4 large brown eggs (6 if you enjoy them as much as Verge does)
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons good wine vinegar
Photos by Mark Weinberg
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]
The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.