Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cooking Eggs in a Paper Bag

I saw this video on YouTube that suggested one could cook eggs and bacon in a paper bag and decided to try it.  In my science classes, I have sometimes boiled water in a paper cup.  Water's boiling point is near 100 degrees Celsius, and it will not rise above that temperature until it has become a gas.  The paper cup continually conducts its thermal energy into the water, so it won't get above 100 degrees Celsius until the water has boiled away.  The paper cup won't burn unless it reaches about 233 degress Celsius.  (In Fahrenheit this is 451 degrees, hence the name of Ray Bradbury's classic story about bookburning.)  The idea behind paper bag cooking is similar.  As long as the egg is cooking in the paper bag, the bag won't burn.  I loved the idea of cooking in paper and tried it over a small cookfire in our yard.
Unfortunately, the bag kept burning.  When I boil water in a paper cup, I fill the cup nearly to the brim.  Even then, the lip of the cup may get singed.  In this case, much of the bag is not in direct contact with the egg. I found it difficult to keep the parts of the bag that were above the egg from catching fire--even when I cooked on some nearly flameless charcoal.  I was similarly unimpressed with the culinary results of the experiment.  In the YouTube video, the woman's bacon and eggs did not look particularly well-done.  Neither did mine.  I, for one, do not like my eggs on the runny side.  My paper bags didn't seems robust enough either.  They leaked a bit before the egg really began to cook. 
I tried this three different times:  once with bacon and two eggs, once with three eggs, and once with one.  Each time, I got a little better with practice.  I would love to show off this novel cooking method to friends, but the novelty doesn't provide quite enough motivation to invest any more time (or good eggs).  If anyone out there tries or has tried this, let us know how it goes.  If you do, here's what I've learned so far. 
  1. Keep the bag out of the flames.  Cook over a bed of high temperature coals. 
  2. Get sturdy paper bags. 
  3. Start with one egg.  A single egg cook much more thoroughly. 
Good luck!