The amount of praise for an egg seems to be directly proportionate to the softness of the yolk. Runny and “jammy” eggs are in vogue — even “hard-boiled” eggs are expected to have yolks with a little wobble. I am, for the most part, totally fine with this, as I love yolk with movement. But there is a time and a place for a hard-fried egg, provided you really fry it.
Accidentally overcooked fried eggs are no fun, and are usually the worst of all worlds: The yolk is hard; the white is set but pale and devoid of texture, leaving the eater with a flavourless, rubbery egg without much contrast. But an intentionally hard-fried egg can be good; it has the yolk of a hard-boiled egg, and crispy, lacy edges of a fried one. This means you can use it like you would a hard-boiled egg with excellent, texturally pleasing results. (The only application that doesn’t quite work here is deviled eggs.)
I like to fry mine over high-ish heat in lots of browning butter or a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and cook until the edges are crispy and golden brown, flipping once to get both sides. (Sometimes I fry herbs or cheese directly into the whites.) Once cooked, I slide them whole onto a sandwich, or transfer the eggs to a cutting board and chop them into squares. You can sprinkle the squares on a salad, like I did for yesterday’s lunch (pictured above), or you could make egg salad, replacing hard-boiled eggs with hard-fried like Food52 does here. (I like theirs because they fry ham and onions in their whites, though I would add a little mustard to their “dressing.”)
There is also less mess. Though I love a self-saucing, yolky egg, sometimes I want a neater breakfast sandwich, particularly during the week, when I am usually eating and typing at the same time. (Cleaning yolk out of keyboard is tedious.) A crispy fried eggs brings a little more texture to the sandwich, which I enjoy, and you can break the yolk and spread it around while it’s frying for an even distribution of flavour. I fry most of mine in butter, but oil will give you the crispiest, most “fried” texture and flavour. The choice of cooking fat depends on my mood, which is ever changing, so it’s nice to have options.