Weeknight Cooking

Roger Vergé's Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar

January  1, 2014

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A new year, a new favorite way to cook eggs.

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

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.

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Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

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.

Cuisine of the Sun  Roger Verge

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:

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

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.

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52  Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52  Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

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.

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

Welcome to 2014, by way of 1979. Meet your new eggs.

Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from Food52

Roger Vergé's Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar

Adapted slightly from Roger Vergé's Cuisine of the Sun (Macmillan, 1979)

Serves 2

4 large brown eggs (6 if you enjoy them as much as Verge does)
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons good wine vinegar
Salt, pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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]

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Özgür
  • chris
  • olive
  • MRubenzahl
  • Eula McDowell
    Eula McDowell
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Özgür February 18, 2015
I can imagine this pairing very well on Spanish tortilla as well. Butter, vinegar and Aleppo peppers reduction. Anyhow, thanks this is very simple yet very inspiring find for me.
chris February 17, 2015
I've never cared for eggs, by themselves, but noticed this recipe, and made it for breakfast. After reading the comments, I also added a dash of pomegranate molasses to the vinegar mixture reduction. The sauce changes everything, and is a stunning new dish for me ... fried eggs are my new love! Dee-licious.
olive February 5, 2014
this is very similar to an egg dish I used to get at Cafe Fanny in Berkeley! It was vinegar and oregano on fried eggs and it was sublime- and I've made it 10000's time since. One of the very best combinations of all time!
MRubenzahl January 9, 2014
I tried it today and it is GREAT! I did it three ways:

- I used a simple wine vinegar, much less red than the one in the photos. The result did not have the shocking appearance as these photos. It was perfect.
- Then I did it using balsamic vinegar. The balsamic is sweet, especially when reduced, which is a very different result.
- Finally, I tried a mix of balsamic and wine vinegar. Very nice sweet and sour effect.

All three variations were terrific. The vinegar's acid is much milder than I had expected and cuts the richness of the eggs in butter.
This is a keeper!
Eula M. January 9, 2014
I love that recipe w parsley and stir fried red onions
Allison D. January 4, 2014
A little vinegar on eggs is great. It adds that little bit of zing.
phelonious January 3, 2014
made it this am, dee-licious!
Rima January 3, 2014
We, (Palestinian/Lebanese mix family) use pomegranate molasses with crushed garlic and dry mint, with big juicy fresh tomato on the side. My favorite way to eat eggs, hand down!
Caitlin B. January 5, 2014
LeBec F. January 3, 2014
aha! i understand now. our fav brunch is at Foreign Cinema in San Fran., where we always order Balsamic fried eggs. And I just realized that Gayle, the chef/owner, worked for Judy at Zuni years ago.....While i add red wine vinegar to my poached egg water, I like to add the balsamic when i fry them (around the edges of the eggs just before i remove them from the pan- so it can flavor the white and highlight the edges.)
juli H. January 2, 2014
we use sour pomegranate molasses a la Beirut. still red but so yum
Kac G. January 2, 2014
could you use wine and vinegar instead of a wine vinegar?
Kristen M. January 4, 2014
Kac, you could, but it would be a bit different. What kind of vinegar did you have in mind?
Sharon February 25, 2014
Kac, absolutely! In fact there's no finer red wine vinegar to be had than one made that way. Just add one part red wine to four parts plain white vinegar. It's the richest, deepest, most divine red wine vinegar you've ever tasted. Play around with the ratio and tweak it to your liking. I like mine a little heavier on the red wine (cabernet). There's no reason to pay those ridiculous supermarket prices for their inferior product ever again. Try it. You'll never go back!
Lauren January 2, 2014
Somehow the sight of an egg with a blood red sauce on it simply turns my stomach.
MRubenzahl January 3, 2014
That's what triggered my thought about balsamic vinegar -- was thinking the red was not visually appealing and thought brown would be better.
marie S. January 2, 2014
Love my eggs cooked this way> I often try the recipes with different vinegars. A favorite is malt vinegar. Recipe appeared in "The Good Egg" (Houghton Mifflin 2000) winner of a James Beard. Award.
Nancy H. January 2, 2014
This post has evoked some wonderful comments--a fine example of the Food52 community of dedicated cooks and food-lovers.
Roberto T. January 2, 2014
Thankfully my parents found a copy of the original Ma Cuisine du Soleil, in a rental villa in Provence in the early 80's - and this was one of the recipes we tried out. I was given a copy of the English version of the book for my 18th birthday and it's always been a bit of a culinary bible for me. His method has been my favourite way of having fried eggs ever since. Although he doesn't specify, I think it much better for being a red wine vinegar, and not a cheap one. Although I've tried this with Balsamic, there is something just too sweet and cloying to cut through the butter and the egg yolk. A lighter sherry vinegar can be good, but again, not one that is too dark and sticky.

Next time there's a sunny day (one has to dream in early January) I recommend his, La Grande Anchoiade. You need to have at least two bottles more of Provencal Rose than you thought could possibly be consumed by you and your guests in one sitting.
JohnL January 2, 2014
I'm don't eat fried eggs, but my father will have them no other way at breakfast. I prepare for him a similar recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook when he visits me from out of town. He says they are the best eggs he has ever had. For 2 eggs, I sauté 3 packed TB French bread crumbs which I have sprinkled with salt and a little fresh thyme or marjoram (the recipe is called Eggs with Crunchy Bread Crumbs) in just enough olive oil to oversaturate them in a 6- to 8-inch skillet over medium heat, let crumbs dry out and stir as they begin to color and make static sounds--they will be crunchy. Then I add the eggs right on top of the crumbs and cook to desired doneness. Slide onto plate. Heat vinegar (red wine, balsamic or sherry) to sizzling and drizzle over the eggs. He likes his eggs over easy, so I reserve some of the crumb mixture to sprinkle over the eggs just before I flip them. Like I say, I haven't personally tasted this, but my father says they are the bomb. The credit for this version goes to Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.
Donna M. January 1, 2014
Cannot wait to try this out. I also like adding the spinach to it
parker January 1, 2014
Yep - the perfect New Year's hang-over cure. Thank you for the most timely recipe ever.
Socalgal52 January 1, 2014
Spinach, a pat of butter, splash of red wine vinegar, an egg and some cheese in a microwave egg poacher - delicious meal in only a couple of minutes!
MRubenzahl January 1, 2014
Balsamic vinegar might be a fine version.