Here it is, folks. The Takeout’s contribution to bracket discourse in 2019. It happens every March—all of the internet is suddenly deeply invested in determining the best Chris, the best Avenger, the best one-liner, the best internet boyfriend, the best kiss, and any random other thing you can seed (please, seed) and throw on a bracket. So when The Takeout staff began to debate what we could bracket, I was fully on board.
Five minutes later, I was the Egg Commissioner. My head is still spinning.
Why eggs—or, to be more specific, methods of cooking eggs? The easy answer is, “why not?” But there are reasons beyond that. In this writer’s opinion, these brackets only work if there’s a decent balance of similarity and diversity.
In that respect, eggs are perfect. Loads of similarity, obviously, but tiny differences in preparation can make for big differences in experience. Second, it lends itself naturally to two conferences, Pots and Pans—though I should point out that we didn’t seed by conference. Got boring fast. And perhaps most importantly, it’s a topic that allowed us to consider man factors in our process. Everybody can make eggs. The experience of making them should be considered, along with taste, texture, versatility, and the balance of cost (in effort) and benefit (in deliciousness).
So here we are, and I am drunk with power. We limited our entrants to eight total, meaning each and every one of these is a contender. We also booted any recipe that requires or most commonly uses ingredients outside of eggs, milk, butter or oil, and salt and pepper. One of my favorite dishes, shakshuka, would have an insanely unfair advantage on something like the humble hard-boiled egg—and the same goes for the omelette as commonly eaten in the United States, loaded with cheese and often meat and vegetables. Last, we settled on the seeding of our Elite Eight after reading various egg-rankings, consulting as a staff, checking in with friends and family, and conducting a brief Twitter poll.
Looking forward to the furor over baked eggs. They’re great!
Today, our first two matchups will be decided. They are:
Scrambled (1) vs. Hard-boiled (8)
Poached (2) vs. Sunny-side up (7)
“Personally, I’m hoping for an upset,” she wrote, knowing full well she got to make the final decision and was not likely to allow such a thing in either of these battles. But hey, you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make a bracket.
Here’s where I was hoping for that upset. It was not to be.
In defense of hard-boiled eggs, they’re an incredibly practical dish, and once I started to consider all the upsides of the HBE, things became much more competitive. First, it allows you to quickly save eggs that might otherwise turn, and they don’t have to be eaten immediately. They can also be eaten just as they are, and sometimes perfectly hit the spot. You can eat these babies for pretty much anything but dessert—they work for breakfast (on their own or as part of a meal), lunch (same), a snack (and a self-contained one!) and dinner (in a salad). When cooked correctly, they’re delicious, but when you screw them up, the worst-case scenario is that the shells are hard to get off and maybe the yolk is tinged green. A great food.
The gulf between a bad scrambled egg and a great one is wide—but the best hard-boiled egg in the world doesn’t hold a candle to the best that scrambled has to offer.
The HBE was properly primed for an upset. I was kind of hoping for one, myself, having devoted myself to the pursuit of the perfect method awhile back. But number-one seeds are number-one for a reason.
We love a runny egg here at The Takeout, and this is a battle of titans in that particular arena. But this isn’t close. Sunny-side up isn’t even our favorite method of frying an egg and keeping the yolk runny, and the SSU doesn’t do right by the whites of the egg. One big plus: They’re so cheerful-looking! But even in terms of visual appeal, a poached egg is infinitely more appealing. (The lightest nudge with the fork tines reveals a runny yolk surprise!)
Yes, poached eggs are harder to make. But as with the showdown above, the you’re paid handsomely for the extra effort. We like a sunny-side up egg, but love them poached. No contest.
Tomorrow: the next two matchups, including an epic battle of the overs.