Welcome to Cooking Without Recipes, in which we teach you how to make a dish we love, but don’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty details of the recipe, so you can create your own spin. Every day this week, we’ll be bringing you a staffer’s favorite weekend brunch recipe—the one they bust out to impress company without too much stress. Today, senior associate food editor Claire Saffitz shares her easy fried egg salad.
My brunch entertaining philosophy is a lot simpler than it used to be. Rather than wake up at 6 a.m. to take sticky bun dough out of the fridge so that it has time to rise (the kind of thing I used to do), I now resist every urge to make hosting complicated. My approach is to cook the simple, straightforward food I actually want to eat and hit the snooze button a couple of times before any guests arrive.
To that end, when I host breakfast or brunch, I make a spin on fried egg salad and let my guests assemble their own open-faced sandwiches. Sure, I just fry up some eggs, toast some bread, and slice some avocado. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean I don’t take care putting it all together.
For six people, I’ll fry up a dozen or so eggs in batches, using olive oil and a cast-iron skillet. I want to make sure the whites are crispy on the bottoms and around the edges but the yolks remain runny. While the eggs fry, I brush some thick slices of country bread with more olive oil and toast them under the broiler until golden brown.
I arrange all the eggs on a platter and add a light drizzle of fish sauce, not only for seasoning but for a bit of funk as well. Then I finely chop a few stalks of celery(make sure to include some of the tender celery leaves as well) and sprinkle those pieces over the egg whites for crunch. Finish with a couple of thinly sliced scallionsfollowed by a drizzle of Calabrian or Asian chili oil and flaky salt.
Then I slice some ripe avocado and put that on another plate with lime wedges and flaky salt. If I have cilantro or another herb on hand, I’ll sprinkle that over top as well.
The best part about this plan is I can eat along with my guests and not worry about a thing—no sticky buns to pull out of the oven, no a-la-minute waffles, and no running back and forth to and from the kitchen. Once everything’s on the table, it’s BYOB: build your own breakfast. I start by mashing a few slices of avocado into the toasted bread, hit it with a squeeze of lime then place the egg upside down over the avocado so that the runny yolk and crunchy components are sandwiched in between.
I serve it all alongside a simple salad of tender greens, mustardy vinaigrette, and a bowl of citrus fruit, and suddenly it comes together—the ideal entertaining breakfast, one easy enough that you can enjoy yourself even when you’re the host.