Saturday, December 6, 2014


Diego Velázquez, An Old Woman Cooking Eggs, 1618, Oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 47 inches
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
© Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland
 Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery, at The Frick Collection in New York City, through February 1.

You don’t need a recipe to learn how to fry an egg—the painting by Velázquez tells it all. Start with very fresh campo ("country", eg, free-range) eggs. Heat olive oil in an earthenware cazuela (or small skillet). Use plenty of olive oil, to a depth of about 1 inch. Break an egg (or two) into the hot oil. Use a wooden spoon (or espumadera, skimmer) to ladle a little oil over the top of the egg.

Fry egg in cazuela
or in a skillet.

When whites are cooked, yolk still runny, skim the egg out. Immersed in oil, the egg cooks very quickly, so take it out before it looks done. It’s fine if the egg whites get a lacy brown edge—puntilla. The yolk should have a filmy white top, cooked by the hot oil spooned over it.

After removing the egg, you can add onion, garlic or peppers to the oil, if desired. Or, drain off the oil and fry some chorizo sausage to go with the egg.. Crush some dried sweet red pepper in a mortar—or just use a sprinkle of pimentón (paprika). Serve the fried egg with bread. Ya está. A comer. Not breakfast. Could be lunch. The perfect supper.

Fried egg, chorizo and fried peppers, a perfect supper.

Fried eggs also go with migas, fried breadcrumbs (migas recipe) and with pisto, a splendid dish of mixed vegetables (pisto recipe).

Migas, fried breadcrumbs, topped with fried egg.
Pisto--mixed vegetable stew--with fried egg.

Huevos Rotos
“Broken” Eggs (Fried Eggs and Potatoes)

Huevos rotos--fried eggs broken over fried potatoes--a classic tapa.
This simple combination of fried eggs and potatoes is a classic tapa, famous at Casa Lucio in Madrid. The potatoes can be sliced or cut in strips, as for fries. Fry the potatoes in abundant olive oil.
I measured out 1 cup of olive oil to fry the potatoes (in an 11-inch skillet). After frying the sliced potatoes, I put them in a strainer to drain off the oil (which can be used again). Then I measured the oil again. I had used less than 1/8 of a cup. So, the potatoes soak up very little oil.
Serves 2 (allowing 1 or 2 eggs per person) or 4 tapas.

3 medium potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced serrano ham
2-4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise about ¼-inch thick. Pat the potatoes dry. Lightly crush the garlic cloves with the side of a knife, but do not peel them (skins keep them from burning).

Heat all of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the potatoes and garlic to the oil. Turn them in the oil to coat them. When potatoes just begin to brown, turn down the heat, and turn them again. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. They do not need to brown or crisp.

Place a heat-proof strainer over a heat-proof bowl. Carefully pour the contents of the skillet into the strainer and allow all of the oil to drain off. Spread the potatoes on a serving dish. Sprinkle them with salt. (Potatoes can be kept warm in a low oven.)

Once the oil is drained off, add the slices of ham to the hot skillet. Give them a quick turn (30 seconds total) and remove. Place the ham around the potatoes on the platter.

Pour enough of the oil into a small (8-inch) skillet to come to a depth of ½ inch. Heat until shimmering. Break 1 egg into a saucer or cup and carefully pour it into the hot oil. Use a spoon or edge of a skimmer to spoon oil over the top of the egg. Use the skimmer to remove the egg when the white is set but yolk still runny. Place the fried egg on top of the potatoes.

Continue frying eggs, one by one, and place them on the potatoes. Use two spoons to break open the yolks, letting them run onto the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately. 

Fried eggs, ham and potatoes.
Fried egg with pisto--a melange of eggplant, zucchini and pumpkin.



  1. What a great way to show us how to fry eggs in olive oil -- who needs digital photos anyway?! We’ve started frying morning eggs like this, the whites and yolks are extra-dreamy this way. I’ve been cooking from Cooking from Spain for many years -- much recommended!

    1. Alanna: Yes, Velázquez provides the how-to illustration! Thanks for recommending COOKING IN SPAIN.

  2. I liked your post on Huevos Rotos..Surely will try at my home..

    1. Dinesh: I hope you enjoy the Huevos Rotos when you try them.

  3. There is nothing better than huevos fritos, chichas (also known as picadillo in the rest of Spain), and patatas fritas. Yum!

    My in-laws have some shared chickens out on their friends' finca, and the eggs are amazingly tasty and the yolks are basically orange!

    1. Kaley: Lucky you, that your family has campo eggs. I think about raising chickens, but they would probably be just food for the foxes.

  4. Buenas tardes,

    Si ustedes viven en Canadá o EE. UU. y desean saber mas de la cultura Española, por favor visiten el siguente enlace:

    Andres Jimenez