Thursday, 5 December 2013 | 20 comments

John Besh’s sunny-side up egg

How quickly are you going to tune out knowing that this post is about how to fry an egg? There is more than one way to skin a cat, the saying goes, but I don’t think there are infinite ways to do it. Which is why I’m suspicious whenever some celebrity chef takes one of the simplest types of cooking and “reveals” it as a special technique (I always think of this Rachel Ray recipe—be sure to delve into the comments). So when I was listening to The Splendid Table a few weeks ago and heard New Orleans chef John Besh gush over how he thinks every cook should know how to make this particular creamy, perfect sunny-side up egg, I rolled my eyes and almost turned it off. But I eat a lot of eggs—these babies are starting to lay and we’re inundated—so I listened. Besh starts the egg in a cold cast iron skillet, rubbed liberally with butter. A cold skillet. So, this is already different than any sputtering fried egg I’ve ever cooked. The egg cooks slowly, opacity creeping through the albumen in this totally satisfying way. You use your finger to test the yolk doneness, stopping when you can feel that it’s heated through. You dress it with only a little sea salt. It’s a bit esoteric and takes an admittedly longer time to cook than my normal 3-minute overeasy, but this egg is awesome. The white (which is kind of my least favorite part of an egg) stays creamy rather than rubbery, and the yolk is just barely cooked through. I had this post in draft the past two weeks thinking that it wasn’t special enough to talk about, but I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I would share. Keep on the sunny side, friends.

John Besh’s sunny-side up egg

You’ll need

  1. 1 egg, preferably fresh and from a chicken who gets pasture
  2. 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  3. A few liberal pinches sea salt


  1. Rub a cast iron skillet with the butter. (A smaller skillet will serve you best here because it limits spreading while the egg is cooking, but large ones still work.) Crack the egg into the skillet carefully.
  2. Place the skillet over medium heat. You don’t want the egg to sputter or the butter to brown much at all. Modulate the heat as necessary to do this. The white will slowly become opaque. When it is fully white, gently touch the yolk. It will likely feel cold. Continue slowly cooking until the yolk begins to warm to the touch.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to sit for a minute or two–the yolk will continue to cook. Sprinkle with sea salt and eat immediately.


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