Cast Iron Eggs

Some years ago I visited London for the first time and was staying in a rather depressing dumpy but affordable hotel, but not for long. Old family friends, the Streeters, who had retired to Harrogate—land of James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small), invited me to visit. It was like coming home—a beautiful apartment in the countryside, my own room with comfy bed and down pillow. I never did have to return to that dumpy hotel as my next stop was friends in Paris.

Staying with the Streeters was a most wonderful and sentimental visit as I had grown up with their sons and we hadn’t seen each other for years. Ted took me to see the newly unearthed (literally) Viking Village in York. Rosalind, a terrific cook, fed me well, but what was most memorable was breakfast. Rosalind served me a fried egg that was still sitting in the little copper bottomed stainless steel Revereware skillet in which it had been fried. She silently set it before me, having announced the night before that she didn’t like conversations first thing in the morning, and left me blissfully to enjoy the fabulous country egg. When later I told her what a perfect way it was to serve an egg, keeping it warm but not continuing to cook it she told me that she had been looking for years for more of those little frying pans so she could serve more than one person at a time.

Neither of us ever found more of those pans but just this month I found the perfect substitute--in fact it’s even better and more charming. Lodge has just produced a collection of cast iron “table ware” which means that the little pans are intended for serving at table.

I lost no time frying my egg in the round one and eureka—perfection! I like my fried eggs crispy around the edges and on the bottom and the yolk still runny but no unset yucky white stuff on top. I heated the cast iron pan on low until about 375ºF on my infrared thermometer, added a little bacon fat (clarified butter or oil will work too), and then the egg, salt, and pepper. The thin watery part of the white flowed out to the edges of the pan, promising a crisp doily collar while the freshness of the egg caused the rest of the white to puddle perfectly around the bright yellow yolk. Ahhhh! I fried it until the white had puffed up a little around the yolk and there was just the barest trace of unset white at the edges of the yolk which I knew would disappear with the slight continued cooking from the cast iron. I added 3 tiny intense just-picked yesterday cherry tomatoes from Maria Menegus’s garden which is burgeoning with an infinite variety of ripe tomatoes this time of year and à table! The acid-bright/candy sweet tiny tomatoes burst in my mouth—hot from the residual heat of the pan but essentially uncooked. Elliott watched amused. He doesn’t eat eggs even though it has been proclaimed that an egg a day is very healthful. I guess he lost the habit during the years when other theories prevailed. But if he did, I would have served him his in the oval shaped little Lodge pan.