How to Fry the Perfect Egg and Care for your Cast Iron Skillet

December 5, 2017


There are only two things you need to fry the perfect egg - fresh eggs and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. One without the other and you're going to end up with an eggy mess that's stuck to your pan. Frying an egg isn't difficult, but there are a few things you should know.



So Why Cast Iron?


Like most of the free world, I tossed out all my nonstick frying pans years ago. The dangers of Teflon not only to humans, but to pets and especially chicks in a brooder in the house, are pretty well-documented. I'm just not comfortable with pans that have a chemical coating on them that can flake off or emit toxic fumes at a high heat. I figure a cast iron skillet was good enough for my grandmother, and her grandmother before her too likely, so it's good enough for me.

Sure you can use a stainless steel frying pan, but you're going to need a LOT of oil or butter to keep your eggs from sticking, so if you're in the least bit health-conscious, having a pan that doesn't need a ton of calories added to your cooking is a major plus. Sure you can use cooking oil spray, but again, if it's real oil, it adds calories and I would guess there are also some non-natural ingredients in it those spray cans.

If you buy a cast iron skillet, it will come pre-seasoned. And as you use it, it will continue to season. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet shouldn't need much surface coating, if any, when you cook to prevent foods from sticking.
 
So how do you care for your skillet and season it for the best nonstick-ability? Here are some tips from Lodge Cast Iron.

  • Never put your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. 
  • Always wash cast iron by hand.
  • Never let it sit or soak in water.
  • Don't use soap.
  • After rinsing , dry your skillet with a paper towel.
  • Set your skillet over a low burner (or the still-warm burner you cooked on) and rub the inside with a light coating of olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Use caution when you cook highly acidic foods like tomatoes, because the acid can pit the surface.
That's it. If you want me to be perfectly frank here, I often just swipe the inside of my skillet with a paper towel right after using it and that's it. Then I just set it on the back burner of our stove until next time. If you're frying anything and have added oil, then just redistributing that oil on the pan's surface will be sufficient.

If you do need to wash your skillet, hot water and a rough sponge is usually all you need to get it clean. Be sure to dry it - or use this trick I learned from my father-in-law: after he rinses his skillet, he sets it over a low flame to evaporate every last bit of moisture that might be left behind on the surface.

If there are bits of food stuck to your skillet, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and put it back on the stove over a low flame, let it simmer for a bit, and then use a spatula or wooden spoon to loosen anything left behind. For really stubborn bits (or a spot of rust), you can use steel wool. Don't worry, it won't scratch your pan! I've also read that you can use salt, but I've never tried that.

If you run across an old, rusted cast iron pan at a yard sale or antique store, don't hesitate buy it! Bring it home, scrub it with steel wool and then season it with oil. For a bit more TLC for an old skillet, you can put it upside down (over a baking sheet!) in a low oven (300-350) for an hour or so once you coat the inside with oil for even better seasoning.


So Why Fresh Eggs?


A fresh egg will have a nice round yolk that stands up tall in the pan and nice thick whites. When you crack a fresh egg into your pan, it won't spread much, meaning that your fried egg will be nice and thick. There is a higher water content in a fresh egg, since the moisture hasn't had time to seep out through the pores in the eggshell, so your fresh eggs will pop and crackle more than older eggs will.

Of course fresh eggs from your backyard taste better, are more nutritious, and far more convenient than lugging a carton home from the grocery store. And naturally our backyard chickens are happier than chickens in a commercial farm setting.


How to Fry the Perfect Egg


So, how do you fry the perfect egg? Well, I love to use heart-healthy coconut oil  when I cook eggs. Just a bit, more for the health benefits and bit of coconut taste than to keep my eggs from sticking, but you can use any cooking oil you wish. Or none at all. Trust me, with a hot, seasoned cast iron skillet you don't need to add oil.

But you want your pan to be hot. Cast iron heats very well and very evenly, so high heat is rarely needed. You want to cook your eggs fairly slowly anyway, and until the whites are just set and cloudy. Once the pan is hot, add your oil. Once that's shimmery, crack your eggs into the pan.  Lower the heat to low and cover the pan to keep the steam and moisture in - especially if you like your yolks to be well cooked.

Cook the eggs to your preference, flip or don't flip, break the yolk or don't, hard cook or soft cook the yolks. Season the eggs with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Turn it into an egg sandwich, add a side of bacon or avocado (I love both!), garnish with some fresh herbs (tarragon and dill are two favorites of mine).  It's up to you. Enjoy!


Giveaway!

Enter to win a 9" cast iron skillet plus a leather handle holder and a cookbook from our friends at Lodge Cast Iron!


 

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