Best Breakfasts 2015

Eggs 101: How to Tell Soft-Poached from Over Medium

A primer on answering a once-simple question

By Katharine Shilcutt May 3, 2015 Published in the May 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Shutterstock

Whether at breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner, the humble egg has never enjoyed a sunnier spotlight. The downside: answering a once-simple question—how do you like your eggs?—has never been harder. Here are some of the most popular versions and some of the best places to get them.

Sunny (or Sunny Side Up)

What: Fried egg cooked only on one side, the yolk just barely set
Where: With the spicy braised pork hash at Down House 

Over Easy

What: Fried egg cooked on both sides, the yolk still runny
Where: Alongside bacon, cheddar grits and toast at Onion Creek


What: Egg simmered in water until the whites are slightly firm and the yolk is runny
Where: Atop the scrapple and sauerkraut at Common Bond


What: Egg cooked just until the whites are soft-boiled and the yolk still runny (often by plunging it into a water bath heated to a precise 145 degrees Fahrenheit—or 63 degrees Celsius. At 63.5 degrees, the yolk takes on a more solid, Play-Doh-like texture)
Where: With chilaquiles at El Big Bad

En Cocotte

What: Egg baked in a ramekin surrounded by a water bath, or bain marie, until whites are set and yolk is thick
Where: With chevre, mushrooms and greens at Sparrow


What: Egg cooked for two to four minutes in simmering water whose temperature is between 158 and 180 degrees, depending on desired firmness of the yolk—from runny to thick and creamy
Where: On Texas toast with prosciutto, collards and black truffle cream gravy at Max’s Wine Dive 


What: Egg baked in a ramekin, as in en cocotte, but in a near-boiling water bath for seven to eight minutes until yolk is soft
Where: Atop the pomme puree and black truffle butter at Table 57


What: Egg baked in a ramekin in a 320-degree oven until whites are set and yolk is thick but gooey
Where: Cooked in tomato sauce with mozzarella at Bistro Menil

Over Medium

What: Egg fried on both sides until whites are well set and yolk is firm but with a soft, gooey center
Where: With a side of pan sausage at The Breakfast Klub

Soft Scrambled

What: Egg scrambled over low heat until creamy and custardy
Where: On buttered rye toast at The Honeymoon


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