Wednesday, 3 October 2012 | 49 comments

Fried egg with sizzling vinegar

Some of you send me nice notes that say you’re jealous of my life in the country. No offense, everyone, but it’s not as romantic as you think. I don’t live in the kind of “country” that’s 20 quaint minutes outside of a hip, progressive town. I live in the kind of country where the closest town has a 7-11 but not a grocery store. There is no Trader Joe’s in a 50-mile radius. My internet comes from a satellite, and let me tell you, it takes a long time to stream YouTube when your internet is getting beamed down from space (approximately 1-2 days per music video, which is really unfortunate for Ben’s Gotye addiction).There are lots of ways that rural living is lionized that really just aren’t true. Raising chickens is not one of them. Raising chickens is absolutely as wonderful as you think it is. By all accounts, I got chicks and raised them in the name of having fresh eggs. “They’re livestock,” I would tell people firmly. “Not pets.” The thing about these silly birds, though, is that they’re kind of sweet, have a lot of personality, and eat your kitchen scraps. They have this fascinating society that you can just sit back and watch. I loved them for the first five months they were in my life even without the eggs. They were worth keeping around already. Then BAM, they started paying their rent. It’s difficult to fathom, that we’ve bred these animals that ovulate near-every day, spontaneously. They do it without complaint (although one of them sings a little song whenever she lays an egg, strutting and bragging a little). When the first hens started laying, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was the best day of my summer. I cracked one of the small, pale brown pullet eggs into a ramekin to show anyone within spitting distance how bright the yolk was and how tall it stood up from the albumen.

More started coming. We were getting three eggs per day, all shades of tan and ochre. And then! Then, one day, Ben approached me with his hands cupped around something. He opened them, and nestled there were two perfect blue-green eggs. I flipped a sh*t. I even knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop me from freaking out. And the beautiful eggs that taste so good keep rolling in. So you can see where I’m coming from, maybe? Maybe you want to throw my chickens a party, too? I wouldn’t blame you.

Nowadays, with a few dozen eggs in the fridge at all times, I turn pretty frequently to a humble standby: the fried egg sandwich. This is the type of food I can eat when I don’t know what I want to eat; the kind of food I can make on autopilot and be incredibly satisfied when I’m finished with it, always. My sandwiches are typically open faced: toasted bread–fried egg–a little salty cheese–maybe some hot sauce. They are good that way and I didn’t really need to mess with them, until I paged through the egg section in Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors on the lookout for egg-using-up recipes. (One does not, it turns out, make a very big dent in one’s egg supply by eating occasional fried egg sandwiches.)

Deborah’s fried egg with sizzling vinegar is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Which is to say, it is delicious, especially if you’re me and instead of being born with a sweet tooth, you were born with something along the lines of an “acid” tooth. After frying your egg, you swirl some vinegar in with a little extra butter in the same skillet and then pour it, still sizzling, over the top of your egg. I’ve been throwing my egg on top of greens and toast, and letting the vinegary butter sauce dress the greens, too.

Fried egg in sizzling vinegar

Adapted just barely from Deborah Madison’s book, Local Flavors
I like this egg served on top of toast with some baby greens, letting the sauce and yolk dress the greens. If you go this route, toast your bread as you cook the egg and have your greens at the ready, as the process goes quickly.

You will need

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1 fresh hen or duck egg
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2-4 tablespoons red wine wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (add more or less vinegar to taste; I like it to be quite vinegar-y to cut through the rich yolk)


In a small skillet, melt one teaspoon of the butter. Fry your egg as you normally do. Remove the egg from the skillet and give it a sprinkle of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.

Melt the remaining teaspoon of butter. When it has stopped foaming, add the vinegar and a few pinches of salt, swirling the skillet to mix. It will sizzle and bubble up. When the butter and vinegar have mixed and the sauce has reduced just a bit, remove the skillet from the heat. Immediately pour the buttery sauce over the egg and serve.


§ 49 responses to Fried egg with sizzling vinegar

  • Your eggs are so beautiful! You’re making me want to get chickens (please, someone stop me).
    And an “acid tooth?” I know exactly what you mean. Brandon (Molly/Orangette’s husband) and I have joked that we’re “acid freaks.”
    Welcome to the sourhood :-)

  • Hah! I was just thinking about asking you how the chickens were doing, and now I know!

    Octavian, who grew up with relatives living more rural lives, keeps telling me that I probably wouldn’t like chickens as much as I think that I would. (I get excited every time I see one and want to take photos–some are very noble-looking!) And I doubt at this rate that I’ll ever really get to know, so I’m delighted, always, always, to hear anything about yours.

    Eggs are my stand-by too, so I’m sure I’ll be giving this a try soon.

  • Heather

    Oh man, this is so totally up my alley.

    Congrats on the eggs! They’re gorgeous, and delicious, I am sure. I’m only grateful I can get similar ones from my CSA in PA to cook recipes like this in my DC kitchen.

  • I can always count on Deborah Madison for a good idea when I need some inspiration in the kitchen. The egg with sizzling vinegar is making me salivate, as I too am an acid lover. :)

  • I spent years in the country in a town where there was only a gas station, a falling-down general store that opened sporadically, and a post office that looked like an outhouse, so I know from where you speak. It was pre-internet, and television, when it worked, only broadcast re-runs of Welcome Back Kotter. But we did have good eggs on hand and a huge garden.

    My new favorite egg dish comes from an Italian friend who writes the blog Briciole- ( it is call uovo col pomodoro and is essentially an egg or two stirred into a smooth roasted tomato sauce. Dead simple. I have been eating it more that I should admit. I think you will like it–though I do love the sizzling vinegar trick, too!

  • Sarah

    That sandwich looks delicious. And those eggs are so pretty! I love the different colors.

  • For years I have wanted to put a chicken coop in our backyard. I’m glad to hear that you’ve had such a positive experience with your hens. And the eggs! I never knew they laid such a rainbow of colors. Just beautiful. Thank you for the recipe. It looks scrumptious.

  • My favorite post of yours yet; you had my attention with every word. And now I know the next way I’ll be having eggs!

  • Our friends have chickens, and I too was surprised how much fun they are to watch, and that they follow you around and seem interested in what you’re up to. After buying lots of beautiful local eggs like this, grocery store eggs are so boring! And what if you just want a small one, like to glaze something? Even though we don’t have our own chickens, I’m totally addicted to the beauty and variety of backyard eggs. Your photos do a lovely job of capturing them.

  • I dearly love ‘Local Flavors’ – all of her books, really. I don’t have chickens but my in-laws do, which means to my great delight that I get to make souffles from fresh eggs (my fav recipe is from that cookbook, come to think of it!) … scrambled eggs just from the coop … etc. etc. etc. whenever I am out there (Pt. Reyes/Inverness). Unfortunately some of the ‘ladies’ have succumbed to the perils of prowling raccoons (or foxes) over the years, but it’s amazing how the rest of ’em keep laying those eggs day after day … One day, I hope to have a little land so I can have some, too!

    • I love that souffle recipe too! I’ve actually featured it here. There might be more Deborah Madison recipes than anything else here, actually. Just yesterday I had a weird predator incident where something definitely broke in…but all the chickens were just fine. Lucky. But it’s an ongoing battle here, because we basically live in the woods. (Also, you reminded me that I never made your strawberry souffle from earlier this year. Still want to.)

  • Fresh eggs and sizzling vinegar. I’m in! It was so nice to spend a summer beside hens and their fresh eggs. There was a definite difference. I miss those gorgeous yolks. We were spoiled. My husband had a favorite hen who would jump/fly up and sit awkwardly on the edge of our fence while he’d drink his coffee on the porch in the early morning. Hens do have individual personalities and some truly stand out amongst the bunch.

  • ahh i want chickens, but they wouldn’t really work out in an apartment in Manhattan (although our neighbor down the hall had a baby duck once – thankfully it went off to live at a farm a week later). Those eggs have the most spectacular colors I’ve ever seen.

  • Hell, I want to throw your chicken a party too !
    These eggs look like they’ve been dyied, they’re gorgeous and I bet delicious !

    The equivalent of this quick-always-happy-dish in my kitchen would be bread with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper and whatever good stuff I have, all put in the oven to toast.
    Last month I was all about mushrooms+parmesan+thyme…
    Bread meals are awesome :)

  • Fried egg sandwiches are my pb&j. ;)

  • just made this for a quick, easy lunch. I slathered my toast with a clove of garlic before adding the egg and vinegar sauce. I also had mesculin greens on the side.
    amazingly simple recipe. thanks for sharing!

  • Vinegar-butter sauce on chicken we do a lot (with rosemary too – so good). On eggs? This is officially my new favorite lunch. A fried egg on toast does it every time – but I’m in the “acid” club too … I always use about 1/4 the recommended oil when making dressing, because I don’t see how people can want to cut the acid that much! :) Gorgeous eggs by the way … and great pics.

  • LRB

    love the blog! where did you get those lovely shoes in the first photo?

    • Thanks! The shoes are actually thrifted. They’re a brand called Mainframe, and they are awesome work-ish boots that aren’t ugly. I’d look out for the brand on ebay or Etsy if you were so inclined.

  • Oh my, it is my DREAM to have egg laying chickens! Maybe someday when the urge to live in the middle of everything ceases. And I would probably have to give my prey driven Jack Russell away first, which obviously can’t happen :)

    Oh and by the by, I think the Alexandria TJ’s is within a 50 mile radius of you…ok maybe 53 miles. Still doable!

  • Megan

    Thank for this. It made the most delicious breakfast for my lazy columbus day morning!

  • I too live in the country. I SO understand and can completely relate what you are saying! I’m 60 miles from the nearest Trader Joe’s, I have dial-up internet access – satellite doesn’t work where I live, nor does any cell service – hence the delay in my comment.; I couldn’t load this until I had the time to drive (8 miles) to wifi (at my little local library) without my 2 year old at my side … I look forward to having chickens one day in the future…beautiful photos!

  • I have a recipe for migas that adds a dash of vinegar at the end, and it states that it´s what makes it better than others. I should try it! Country life is different in many aspects from what people think, but then, I think life in general is different from what we always thought it would be. So why do we keep on hoping to find a real life fairytale?

  • That egg sandwich (and photo) is just perfect. I’m hoping one day I can have a couple chickens- having fresh eggs everyday has always sounded wonderful!

  • Oh I can relate ( a bit), the only difference between us is that I’m close to a town with almost everything. Oh well , I love eggs and i’ve had my share of adding vinegar to a fried egg but this is the first time I’ve encountered a process where you cook the vinegar as well.

    It’s a good thing I found your blog.

    Love from the Philippines,

  • We had chickens when I was little, so I know exactly that moment of complete enjoyment over something as simple as an egg. I even get giddy when the farmer I get my eggs from has a couple of the bluish ones too!
    Getting chickens is next on my to-do list, but they’ll be city chickens : )

  • That sounds really delicious! My Greek grandmother does that same vinegar/butter combo after she frys up chicken livers.

  • Ha, I love your ‘let’s get real’ intro to this post. I can imagine that many people (myself included) find your lifestyle to be romantic, but I can definitely see how country living isn’t always what it looks like in magazines and on Pinterest. I have a major sweet tooth but I think you’ve also accurately described…my other tooth? Acid! Yes. It’s wonderful, as I know this fried egg is.

  • shilpa

    oops! meant to post this here and not your last post! i just discovered your site and so happy i did! this is such a beautiful post.. What kind of chickens do you raise?

    • Hi Shilpa,
      The brownish and sometimes pinkish eggs come from a heritage breed called Buff Orpingtons; the bluish and greenish eggs are from a breed called Ameraucana. Thanks for (both) of your kind comment(s)!

  • ali

    YUM!!!! i run a deli and make around 40 – 50 egg sandwiches a day and yours sounds absolutely lovely (with out saying would you like sausage, ham, bacon or taylor pork roll on that!)… and i love the “acid tooth” – it makes my salt lick cravings sound normal! What a wonderful post – I’m sure I’ll see you often – ali

    • Ali—love this comment; game me a good chuckle. I cannot fathom making that many egg sandwiches…I probably wouldn’t love them so much if I had to do that :) Thanks—S

  • that looks really good!

  • I have never seen such pretty eggs. Before we moved back to the city we had chickens and oh I know exactly what you mean about those little ladies. And their eggs were pure perfection with a yolk that looked like gold and tasted of butter. I’m one of those who fantasizes life on the farm. I know I’m being silly but to have chickens again might be just worth it.

  • While I definitely have a sweet tooth, there is an acid one in there as well. I love how the acid mingles with the butter and once the yolks break, all that liquid magic descends into the bread. A must try and eggs with greens are a regular feature at dinner in my house, even without chickens in the back :)

  • I remember my grandmother ordering baby chicks through the mail. They came inside waxed cardboard boxes that had holes so the babies could breathe. Oh, the scent of baby chicks! It ranks with baby talcum powder.

    Reading this reminded me of the warm eggs I used to collect with my aunts. Talk about tripping down memory lane? You’ve improved my day. Thanks.

  • Dee

    I just had this for breakfast this morning and found a new breakfast favorite. I hope one day I can make it from the eggs of my own chickens.

  • I just popped back here to review your recipe and then made my late breakfast. Delicious! I topped a slice of homemade rye toast and some roasted carrots and zucchini with my fried egg with sizzling vinegar and YUM. Thank you.

  • I’m French and live in Lille in Northern France and I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have made and loved several of your recipes. I love your simple approach to food and cooking, plus you have such a beautiful blog.
    I just made this for my breakfast, using apple cider vinegar, and I think I will be making it over and over again. I would never have thought of pouring hot vinegar and butter over my favorite breakfast of eggs and greens, but now I will definitely be spreading the word. So delicious! Merci!!!

  • Gemma

    I just came across this after having on a whim decided to cook up a couple of eggs in cultured butter with a splosh of red wine vinegar and fresh cracked black pepper, topped with a cloud of salty hard cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, in this case, since I happen to be out of aged Gruyère at the moment. As with so many other things in food, when one has what seems to be a good idea, it’s virtually a certainty that someone else has thought of it at some point. I’m pleased to note I’m in such good company as Deborah Madison.

    I laughed to myself a little to hear about your fried egg sandwiches. A slice or two of my homemade bread fried in cultured butter or extra virgin olive oil, and topped with a fried egg and some hot sauce, or a couple of anchovy filets, with a bit of grated cheese is my go-to meal, morning, noon, and night.

  • Tom

    Love it. Thanks for the tips.
    We have had as many as 75,000 layers in our back yard back in the 80′ and 90’s.
    PGIF when cartoning ( not a real word) your eggs,
    Points Go In First.

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