Know your eggs. Ideally, they’re organic and come from a nearby farm. When cracked into the frying pan, fresh egg whites will be viscous and form that iconic round shape without the need for a mold. The yolk will sit proudly on top of the whites. If your egg white runs all over the pan, it’s less fresh. Good eggs come in all different sizes and colors, unlike the more uniform industrial versions that can be purchased in standard sizes. Also, if you happen upon a double yolk, it’s said to be good luck.
Make a clean break
To crack an egg efficiently, hold the egg with one hand and tap it firmly (one time only!) against the side of your bowl or pan. This should create a clean break—multiple taps will result in fragmented shells. To separate the egg whites from the yolk, crack the egg over a bowl, part the shell enough for the whites to run out, then pass the yolk from shell to shell, letting the rest of the whites run out into the bowl.
Your pan should be just big enough to hold the number of eggs you plan to cook, but make no more than four at a time. Any more and things start to get unwieldy.
Add your fat (olive oil, bacon fat, butter, etc.) into the pan before turning on the heat so you can adjust the temperature as needed and better prevent the fat from burning. Set the heat to medium-low and wait until the fat begins to foam and sizzle.
Your mouth should now be watering.
To avoid shells, crack your egg into a ramekin before pouring it into the pan. For sunny-side up, let the egg whites turn opaque and cover the pan, keeping the heat at medium-low for another three minutes. Drop in a sage leaf toward the end to soak up a bit of fat. Scoop up the egg and serve.
Crack three eggs into a bowl and start whisking with a fork. Add crème fraîche, fresh herbs, and any other ingredients you see fit.
Use a small pan with higher edges, roughly two inches tall. Add butter and set the heat to medium. Wait for the soft sizzling to begin, then pour your egg mix into the pan and grab your trustiest wooden spoon. Keep stirring, keep stirring, keep stirring—much like you would a risotto. Scrape the bottom after every few strokes. Once the eggs start to form small curds and the mixture is cooked but still loose enough to pour, remove your pan from the heat and stir in a little (or a lot) more butter. The residual heat will continue to cook the eggs until they are ready to serve. Look for a creamy texture, unless you like them firm.
You can use the same high-edged pan as you did for the scrambled eggs or use a tall pot of around eight inches or more in height. (The greater depth cooks the eggs more evenly.)
Fill your vessel with water until about three-quarters full, or enough to fully submerge the eggs, and add a good pinch of salt and a teaspoon of white vinegar (which is not for flavor alone but also gives the eggs form). Crack your eggs into individual ramekins.
When the water reaches a steady simmer, stir in a clockwise motion so the whites will wrap around the yolks. Gently slide in the eggs one by one at 10-second intervals. You can also use a slotted spoon, which strains off the thinner whites for a more compact poached egg.
Wait for the whites to set and cook through, making sure the water remains at a nice, even simmer. This should take around three minutes, after which you can scoop up the eggs with the slotted spoon, strain well, and enjoy immediately.