Low and slow, folks. Low and slow.
Eggs are the first thing most of us learn how to cook, and we probably think we're pretty darned good at it, just from sheer repetition. Now imagine how freaking great that pro chefs must be at it. At the recent James Beard Awards in Chicago, we asked 20 of our favorites (including a bunch of medal winners past and present) about their favorite tips and methods for cooking eggs.
Katie Button: Curate and Nightbell, Asheville
My favorite egg is called huevos con puntilla. It's a Spanish style of frying eggs. They're literally fried, like you put in a half-inch of oil, get it ripping hot, drop an egg in it. It crisps up all over, bubbles, it deep-fries almost. Be careful while you're doing it, stand back, splash a little bit of oil over the top so the white is set and pull it. It's called huevos con puntilla and puntilla means lace, so it's eggs with lace. I just love that terminology. The lace refers to the crispy, brown, bubbly outside of the fried egg. I can't eat eggs any other way. OK, I do eat them other ways, but that's my favorite go-to.
Vishwesh Bhatt: Snackbar, Oxford
Have somebody else cook them for you. But the easiest thing to do is fry an egg, crack it sunny side up, so you don't have to flip it or do anything else to it. That's my favorite way of eating eggs.
Asha Gomez: Spice to Table and The Third Space, Atlanta
I grew up in a culture where you actually make egg curry. So if you've never done it, make seven-minute eggs, caramelize some onions, make curry sauce with a little coconut milk, and then drop the seven-minute eggs in there. Delicious!
Edouardo Jordan: JuneBaby and Salare, Seattle
Eggs can go in so many manners, from soft-boiled to scrambled. If I'm making them for me, I like a soft-scrambled egg, a little bit of butter, finish them with sour cream—you can even use a Greek-style yogurt. Finish with that and keep that velvety, creamy feel to it. Light and slow.
Alex Guarnaschelli: Butter, NYC
I have to say that cooking slow and low with scrambled eggs is my favorite. And also instead of adding milk or cream, add a splash of water. You get fluffier eggs and they're lighter.
Hugh Acheson: 5&10 and The National, Athens and Empire State South, Spiller Park Coffee, and Achie's, Atlanta
I have one nonstick skillet, it's just for omelets. Butter, low and slow, and then realize that you should be pulling off scrambled eggs before you think they're really going to be done. They're going to continue to cook. You want that curd structure to be beautiful you don't might to be minimized to a pulp. The curd is what's there and it's beautiful.
Dolester Miles: Highlands's Bar and Grill and Bottega, Birmingham
Get farm eggs, the freshest eggs you can find. That's what we use at Bottega, we buy them from a farmer who brings them right in. They are the best. They're richer, yellow, make great cakes, and the volume is great.
Dana Cree: Pretty Cool Ice Cream, Chicago
Room temperature eggs emulsify better into all of your baked goods.
Steve Palmer: Indigo Road Hospitality, Charleston
Low and slow, low and slow. Thomas Keller told me that: low and slow.
Karen Akunowicz: Myers+Chang, Boston
I love to cook scrambled eggs, so just the lowest and slowest with a little bit of butter that you can manage. That's Sunday morning in our house. You know that it's a Sunday when we can do a pour-over and make slow scrambled eggs. I stir them with chopsticks.
Jennifer Hill Booker: Your Resident Gourmet, Atlanta
Use room-temp eggs, add lots of air, whip them up, and make sure that you served them piping hot. No one likes a cold egg.
Kevin Nashan: Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis
I love just a nice fried egg; cover it a little so it barely cooks the top of it. You get a little crispy and a little soft and a little custardy on the yolk.
Ashley Christensen: Death & Taxes, Poole's Diner, and more, Raleigh
As someone who does a lot of hard-boiled eggs or soft-boiled eggs, I say cook the egg in the package of its own shell, take a pin, and pop the bottom of the egg so that it allows enough moisture and steam into the egg to separate from the shell. That makes peeling a lot easier.
Anne Quatrano: Bacchanalia, Floataway Cafe, Star Provisons and more, Atlanta
Oh god I love eggs. I rise for fresh eggs. I like a soft scramble with a lot of butter.
Mike Lata: FIG and The Ordinary, Charleston
Fresh farm eggs, thumb tack, create a hole, drop it in simmering water for 11 minutes for a hard-boiled egg. Run it under cold water just long to peel the egg shells. It's the only way to cook a farm-fresh egg, hard boiled.
Carey Bringle: Peg Leg Porker, Nashville
Don't overcook them. I can't stand when I get scrambled eggs that have been overcooked or a fried egg that's been overcooked. So take your time.
Rodney Scott: Rodney Scott's BBQ, Charleston
Oh man, cook the bacon first, throw the eggs right in on top of bacon grease, add a little bit of black pepper, light salt, and enjoy.
Steve McHugh: Cured, San Antonio
When I'm boiling eggs I love to put a little olive oil in the water because it helps the shells peel a little bit easier. Then it's always 11 minutes. I put the eggs in the cold water. Once they come to a simmer I set an 11 minute timer and when that timer goes off, they are ready. You shock them, cool them down, you won't get the green edges, you won't get the sulfur. It's the perfect temp. A little olive oil or salt in there and like I said, the olive oil gets in there underneath the shell and it just slips right off.
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas: B. Patisserie, San Francisco
Suas: Eat it raw.
Leong: I say keep stirring, make it fluffy.