In "The Egg Men," New Yorker writer Burkhard Bilger writes about the chefs working at the Flamingo Café, in Las Vegas. They crack lots of eggs. More than a million a year. For them, cracking an egg with one hand is just the start. They hold two eggs—at least—in each hand, then crack them directly into a bowl. I consider myself a pretty good cook, but this, I thought, was beyond me.
Then I had kids. I learned to do all kinds of things with one hand, or even with my toes. But the beauty of cracking an egg with one hand didn't hit me until last year, when I was trying to make pancake batter with my older child. Predictably, the baby started crying. The baby would stop crying only if I picked her up. Pretty soon, I was trying to make pancakes with a baby on my hip. The eggs were still neatly in their carton. I looked at my older kid. She'd had it with the screaming, and just wanted breakfast. I looked at the baby. She was preparing to reach full lung capacity. I looked at the eggs. How hard could it be?
Not that hard. I figured it out on the spot, and you could too, crying baby or not. Here's how to do it.
1. Get a crying baby on your hip, a job at the Flamingo, or invite a dozen friends over for brunch. That'll put you in the right frame of mind
2. Hold the egg lengthwise in your palm. Your middle finger should be just about at the 'equator' of the egg.
3. Give the egg a really good smack, right in the middle. This is key. You don't want a wussy little crack in the egg, because then you're going to need both hands to get in there and break the egg apart. If you smack the egg hard enough, the yolk and white will basically fall into the bowl on their own. All you have to do is hold onto the shell.
4. Open the egg. Holding onto the shell, move your index finger and thumb away from your other three fingers. There's an excellent video on the blog Food Wishes that shows how to crack an egg with one hand. That chef also suggests practicing with two golf balls and a quarter (you'll see). That is way, way too organized for me. I don't have time to practice cracking eggs. The video is great, but you know what? That guy needs a crying baby.
5. If you goofed and didn't crack the egg hard enough, things will get a bit messy. That's when you wedge your middle finger into the crack in the egg, moving the two halves apart and letting the yolk and white drop out.
Technically, it is also possible to separate an egg with one hand. Instead of letting the yolk fall out, you break the egg, then tip it so your thumb is on top, and let the white run out over the bottom half of the shell. That seems a bit ambitious to me. For that, I think I would need another baby. —KW
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Image courtesy of flickr user Northfield.org