The Perfect Egg Flipper: Lodge 8-Inch Cast-Iron Pan
I’ve been trying to switch from Teflon pans to cast-iron pans, partly due to the questionable health and safety status of Teflon, but also because I’m sick of having to buy new Teflon pans every 6-12 months when their non-stick coating starts to fail.
This transition has been pretty easy, and cast-iron pans are dirt cheap. But the one thing I worried about was eggs: would I be able to fry two eggs in a cast-iron pan and flip them properly? Of course properly means flipping them in the air, without a spatula. That’s how I’ve cooked eggs my entire life, and having to use a spatula instead would be a sad combination of absurd and depressing.
Flipping eggs in the air is trivial in a (new) Teflon pan, but what about cast-iron? I did a web search and found plenty of people saying that cast-iron is every bit as non-stick -- if not moreso -- as Teflon, once it’s properly seasoned. I was encouraged, but skeptical.
I bought the 8-Inch Lodge L5SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet. The Lodge logo is a pan with an egg in it, so it must work, right? But the instructions clearly state that the pan’s pre-seasoned coating is not perfectly non-stick, but will get better with time. I was anxious to try it anyway, so I fried up some eggs, and they stuck. Severely.
I then spent three months using the pan for things other than eggs: mainly fried vegetables and ham. The key is to just rinse the pan with hot water to clean it; never use soap, and if it needs scrubbing, just use a stiff-bristled brush. Then, don’t towel-dry it; just put it on the stove briefly until all the water evaporates. At that point, if the cooking surface looks shiny, you’re done: just put the pan away. But if it looks dull and dry, which it did the first few times, then put in a tiny bit of coconut oil and spread it around, coating the entire cooking surface. Turn it over to drip out any excess, then put the pan away until next time.
Using that cleaning method, and cooking with the pan only about 4 times per week, it gained a really nice non-stick surface in about three months. And that included a couple of rookie mistakes where I used the cast-iron pan to cook acidic sauces (marinara once, and BBQ another time) -- those eat away the non-stick surface pretty badly, and your food tastes like iron. But fortunately, it only takes one or two proper uses to fix the surface after that.
Last week I decided to give eggs another try, and lo! They cooked beautifully. They did stick just a little bit at first, but I was able to break them free just by shaking the pan. Then with a flick of the wrist, they flipped over easily.
So here’s my perfect fried eggs recipe in a non-stick cast-iron pan:
1. Set stove to medium and pre-heat pan for 7 minutes. (That’s an electric stove; I’d guess gas needs less time and/or lower heat.)
2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and let it cook for 1 minute.
3. Add two eggs. They should sizzle pretty good immediately. Salt and pepper.
4. Don’t touch the pan for 2 minutes. At 2 minutes, gently shake the pan until the eggs slide around freely, then flip them (in the air, not with a spatula, you sissy!).
5. Turn off the heat and let the eggs cook for 1 more minute (3 minutes total). Add more salt and pepper to this side, plus some shredded cheddar cheese.
6. Slide the perfect eggs right onto your plate. The whites should be slightly browned and the yolks warm but runny.