the sunny side of life…

I’m known for cooking hot breakfasts for the girls every day, but I rarely partake in them during the week. Sundays are my day to linger at the table with coffee, a hot meal, and the newspaper, if I’m feeling extra decadent with my time. During the week, I usually set about the kitchen packing lunch and preparing for the day while the girls eat. I don’t feel particularly guilty for not sitting with them since the kitchen opens into the dining room. I’m a stone’s throw from them, just across the counter, caught up in chatter about the day ahead.

Once the busyness of the morning is done, with them dropped off at school, it’s my tummy’s turn for some TLC. I put up a pot of French press, and get to work on my favorite breakfast—a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg. I love the contrast of the crispy edges of the whites, as I poke at the yolk and watch it slowly dribble out. It’s the simple things that I find most comforting, and cooking an egg just right is one of them. So, imagine my momentary fluster when I cracked my egg into the pan yesterday and the yolk broke. I immediately realized I took one of the older eggs from the carton. Older eggs are better for making hard boiled ones, which means the ones I buy fresh from the farmers’ market need a week or two to “age”. I set a few aside for this purpose every week.

Fried eggs, on the other hand, are best made with super fresh eggs*. When I cracked my egg yesterday, and the yolk splattered open, I was crestfallen. Piercing the yolk is like the prize in the Cracker Jack box. My first thought was to toss the egg and start again, but I quickly came to my senses. Waste not, want not, right? I took a fork, and gave the egg a quick scramble in the skillet, making the best of my breakfast situation. While my original intention had been a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg, life has taught me that all is not lost even when things don’t unfold as I intended. We can plot and plan all we want, but it’s grace under pressure that allows us to see the silver linings when they present themselves.

*For a more scientific explanation on why, read this and this.

Sunny Side Up Eggs

Music Pairing: Sunnyside by Leftover Cuties

Take care in selecting your skillet, which all depends on how many eggs you want to cook. The whites will need room to scurry about until they set (usually within a few seconds of hitting the pan). An eight-inch skillet can comfortably fit two eggs, three if you don’t mind them touching each other (I usually don’t, in case you’re wondering, but happen to love the photo I snapped up above).  A ten to twelve-inch skillet is good for up to four eggs. As for the pan type, I love my cast-iron skillet. Non-stick pans work fine too, but I find they don’t deliver a super crispy edge. If you use a stainless steel skillet, you’ll need a very generous pat of butter—let’s call it 1 to 2 teaspoons, to ensure the eggs don’t stick.

And, as with scrambled eggs, the key to cooking sunny side up eggs is low and slow. A little patience will yield a white that is cooked through and not runny, and a yolk that is both set and slightly warm, but still ooze when stabbed with the tip of your toast. I’ve noted fleur de sel for my salt of choice because I like the crunchy bits, but you can use whatever salt you have on hand.



Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a skillet over a low flame. Add a pat of butter to the pan for each egg you’re cooking. Once the butter is melted, crack the eggs, one at a time into the pan. Let each egg set up for a few seconds, before cracking the next one. Continue to cook the eggs over a low flame, until the whites set, become opaque, and the edges are lightly browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


  • Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ

    I thought I might have been the only person who was so particular in keeping the yolks intact!!

  • elissapr

    Can I tell you – a perfectly cooked egg – sunny side up, poached whatever…is a thing of skill and beauty. Finding the happy balance between the plump yolk and the crispy fried edges is one of my favourite things to eat.

    Great post!

  • angelitacarmelita

    I love eggs… and I’m lucky enough to get mine from a local farmer. The one’s from the grocery store simply no longer compare. I love them in all sorts of apps, scrambled, poached, simply cooked with a runny yolk, or served over a bowl of pasta. I have to say that I loved this post, and if not just for my love of eggs, but for the “grace under pressure” comment. That, like a perfectly cooked egg, says it all.

  • Kris

    Ironically, I was just telling a friend of mine how difficult it is for me to fry an egg sunny side up, which is my favorite. I think my fear is that the yolk won’t be cooked enough so I chicken out and flip it over. My other nemesis is pies..though I successfully made a rhubarb pie out of my own home grown rhubarb last weekend. My husband and I planted two apple trees and a cherry tree today so I have to get my pie skills down soon.

  • Tracey A.

    Good Evening (hey, it’s not morning !)
    Good for you, Jenny Perillo! A beautiful egg for our eyes and a beautiful reminder for our souls.
    Wishing you fresh, yellow yolks, easy, sunny mornings and a lovely pot of coffee to top it all off.
    (and a smile for good luck)

  • Christina @ My Homespun Home

    Funny, the broken-yolk fried egg is my favorite way to make eggs for an egg sandwich!

    Cook til the whites are just set on the bottom, flip, cook for just a minute longer to set the whites on the other side (I actually turn the heat off since my cast iron frying pan keeps enough heat to finish cooking), it comes out flat which is perfect between pieces of bread but the yolk is still just gooey/runny enough to “sauce” the sandwich when I take a bite but not so gooey as to make a huge mess (the problem with an egg sandwich with a plain over-easy or sunny-side-up egg).

    Funny how one person’s not-perfect is another’s just-right 🙂

  • Elsie

    Love my fried egg in the morning as well…I thought I was the only nut who got disheartened when the yolk This to me is a good excuse to make scramble egg for my golden…
    Life sometimes can can be scrambled…good thing we have extra eggs..