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06/20/2015

~ A Little Thing Called: How to Hard-Cook an Egg ~

IMG_6257I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.  Life is too short to eat a hard-cooked egg with an unappealing greenish-gray ring-around-the yolk.  I ordered a chef-salad yesterday.  Not just any chef's salad, one at my favorite place, made the way I like it:  extra onions and tomatoes, all-turkey, extra turkey in place of ham, an extra hard-cooked egg and balsamic vinaigrette. Elaine on Seinfeld called it "a big salad -- it's a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it."  

In a classic chef salad, hard-cooked egg is a standard ingredient.  

IMG_6245Why bother to put a chef salad on the menu if the chef can't cook an egg?

IMG_8622When it comes to breaking eggs, fried, scrambled and even poached, most cooks are pretty good at it. Everyone does it a bit differently, mostly because everyone likes their yolk cooked to a different degree of doneness, but, the results are pretty to look at and taste good too.  

When it comes to hard-cooking eggs in the shell, "hard-boiled", it seems that a lot of people have a lot of trouble producing the perfectly-cooked and perfectly-shaped egg: one that reveals a tender white and a creamy, flaky, lemon-yellow yolk.

IMG_8631 Eggs IIWhen it comes to hard-cooked eggs, if you are serving eggs with so much as a hint of a greenish-gray halo around the yolks, you are over-cooking your eggs.  You have no where to run, no where to hide, cut it out, the problem is you, not the egg.

NO ONE LIKES A RUBBERY WHITE WITH A GREEN RING AROUND THE YOLK!

Here's eggs-actly why this happens:

When the egg white, which is rich in sulfur amino acids, cooks, hydrogen sulfide gets released. Cooking the white for too long causes a reaction with the yolk, which is rich in iron-binding proteins.  Even though this unappetizing ring-around-the-yolk is harmless, the egg is quite safe to eat, it simply shouldn't be allowed to happen -- it's astonishingly THAT easy to eliminate.

Boiling Eggs #1Never boil eggs.  "Boil" refers to food cooked in a liquid maintaining a temperature at or above 212 degrees F, the boiling point.  Large bubbles rapidly break the surface of the liquid throughout the process.  

Barely simmer eggs.  "Simmer" refers to food gently cooked in liquid at a temperature around 185 degrees F.  Tiny bubbles slowly break the surface of the liquid throughout the cooking process.

Only cook eggs of the same size. For the purpose of this post:  jumbo, extra-large, or large eggs.

Place cold eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a pot.  Use eggs Boiling Eggs #2straight out of the refrigerator and adjust the pot size accordingly. Cover the eggs with enough cold tap water to cover by 1/2"-1".

Bring eggs to a bare simmer over high heat.  Immediately adjust heat to maintain a bare simmer and begin timing immediately.  Adjust the time according to the size of the eggs, meaning:  the larger the egg, the longer the cooking time, using my foolproof guidelines:

Time as follows for large, extra-large or jumbo eggs:

Coddled Eggs (partially-cooked white/very loose yolk): 30-45-60 seconds

Soft-Cooked Eggs (just set-up white/slightly-thickened yolk):  2-2 1/2-3 minutes

Medium-Cooked (Mollet) Eggs (tender white/semi-soft yolk): 4-5-6 minutes

Hard-Cooked Eggs (firm-but-tender white/tender, flaky yolk):  9-10-11 minutes

Boiling Eggs #3Remove eggs from the stovetop. Drain as much water from the pot as possible.  Start adding cold tap water to the eggs in the pot and allow it to continue to run for about 2-3 minutes, allowing it to flow out of the top of the pot into the sink.

Note:  This will halt the cooking process and quickly cool the eggs, which will make them easier to peel by causing a slight contraction of the egg within the shell.

Gently crack and peel ASAP.  I recommend within  3 minutes of the cold water bath.

Perfectly-shaped, perfectly-cooked, incredible, edible eggs!

IMG_8628A Little Thing Called:  How to Hard-Cook an Egg:  Recipe yields instructions for perfectly hard-cooking as many as you need or desire.

Special Equipment List:  wide-bottomed, shallow stockpot (sized determined by how many eggs are being cooked)

IMG_8613 IMG_8607Cook's Note: In a perfect world, 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs would crack and peel perfectly, but, even with an egg-cooking method as perfect as mine, unfortunately, eggs, like humans, are not perfect. If you are making things like egg, tuna or potato salad, a few nicks or tears in the white won't matter, but, if you making, for instance, deviled eggs, which I am going to be posting next,   I always recommend cooking a few more than you need.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

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