I was watching a program several months ago with some heavy duty chefs that were talking about how the first thing thay did when auditioning a new cook (culinary school graduates) was to have them cook eggs - fried, scrambled, and a simple omlette. Can you imagine spending two years in school, getting a degree in culinary science, and then not getting a job because you couldn't cook an egg???? It happened on this show!
Okay - the answer is .... the amount of fat (oil/butter) needed depends on the cooking temperature and somewhat on the cooking surface. Basically, the lower the heat the less oil needed and the less likely to stick - the higher the temp the more oil needed.
I remember watching my grandmothers fry eggs in a cast iron skillet, after they had fried a pound of bacon or sausage, and the eggs were literally floating on top of a sea of fat - the whites actually "fluttered" as they cooked. Cooked this way - the edges and bottom of the whites became brown and crispy.
Entering into the new era of thinking .... use as little fat as possible - that's fine, but someone forgot to mention you have to turn the heat way down, too. Otherwise, you wind up searing the eggs, and causing them to stick to the bottom of the pan, like when you sear a steak to develop the fond, or "crusty brown bits in the bottom of the pan".
It seems the hardest pan to cook eggs in is SS - which is what it turned out to be in this case - a brand I had never heard of before, with thick aluminum encapsulated bottoms. But, you can get eggs to stick in just about anything. The gang at America's Test Kitchen didn't have a problem getting eggs to stick in Calphalon's new Calphalon One nonstick ....
What worked for her was the Shirley Corriher method, or some variation of it - she didn't say ....
1. Heat the empty pan over LOW heat.
2. Remove the pan and spritz with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Return the pan to the stove and add butter.
4. When the butter is melted, swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.
5. Add eggs and cook over LOW heat.
I added the next part ...
6. After the whites have started to set up (2-3 minutes) run a spatula under the eggs to make sure they are not sticking to the pan and continue cooking.
Goodweed will be happy to know that Shirley also mentions adding a couple of tablespoons of water and slapping a lid on for a minute or two (when using a minimal amount of oil over low heat) as a way to cook the membrane over the yolk - if you want it a little thicker.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain