Tuesday, January 27, 2009
How to Boil an Egg
Call me crazy, but there IS a best way to boil an egg, and not everyone knows the secret! And a well-cooked hard-boiled egg is not only delicious, it is a thing of beauty.
For many years, I could not STAND hard-boiled eggs. They were rubbery, with a distinct flavor of sulfur, and worst of all, the yolks had a disturbing gray-green tinge. Then I learned that these unpleasant characteristics were caused by over-cooking (Cookwise, p. 199). The icky green color in the egg yolk is a result of the iron in the egg yolk combining with the sulfur in the egg white to produce the green compound, iron sulfide. Heat acts as a catalyst for this reaction-- the longer the egg is cooked, the greater the chance of getting a "green" yolk.
Here is how to produce a delicious hard-cooked egg with a beautiful golden yolk (I learned this from Sara Moulton's excellent cookbook, p. 4).
1. Place the eggs in a tall saucepan and add cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch.
2. Put the pan on the burner over high heat, cover, and just bring to a boil-- watch carefully!
3. AS SOON as the eggs come to a boil, REMOVE the pan from the heat. Cover the pan, and let the eggs rest for EXACTLY 15 minutes. This is important to keep the eggs from overcooking.
4. After 15 minutes, remove the eggs from the pan and place in a bowl filled with half ice and half water. Submerge them in the ice water (this stops the egg from continuing to cook). Quick cooling also helps keep the yolk from turning green.
5. Allow the eggs to cool completely-- they can sit there until you are ready to either peel them or store them. (Eggs that are stored in the shell are a little harder to peel. And be sure to take a pencil and mark them with an "X"-- so you won't mix them up with your uncooked eggs!)
6. Voila! Perfectly cooked eggs with no greenish tinge!
Here are a few egg tips and tricks (from Cookwise, p. 198-199, and Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, p. 5).
1. The best place to store eggs is NOT in the egg holder in the fridge door. To keep eggs at their best, they should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. This means on one of the shelves, and at the BACK of the fridge, FAR AWAY from the door.
2. Did you know that older eggs (7-10 days old) are better for making hard-boiled eggs than fresh ones? This is because older eggs are easier to peel. Very fresh eggs, in fact, are nearly impossible to peel (without destroying them). This is because as an egg ages, it develops an air pocket. The larger the air pocket, the easier the egg is to peel. Very fresh eggs have almost no air pocket.
3. How can you tell how old an egg is? Put the egg (uncooked, in its shell) in a bowl of water. Observe its behavior. A very fresh egg will lie flat on its side. An egg that stands up is a bit older and good for boiling. If the egg floats, toss it! It is past its prime.
Fresh Egg: Not so good for boiling (it's lying down)
Older Egg: Good for Boilng! (Standing up)
4. Adding salt to the cooking water helps the egg white to cook a little faster and seal any hairline cracks in the egg. Quick cooking, as well as quick cooling, helps keep egg yolks from turning green.
5. How can you get boiled eggs with perfectly centered yolks and perfectly formed, even egg whites? The night before you plan to cook the eggs, turn the egg carton on its side in the fridge. (Make sure the carton is closed well, of course!) According to research, eggs stored on their sides produce the most consistently centered yolks. Eggs with centered yolks make the prettiest stuffed, or "devilled", eggs. If you have an egg rack, cooking the eggs upright also helps center the yolks.
Now that you know how to cook a perfect hard-boiled egg with a perfectly centered yolk, here is a terrific recipe for "Stuffed Eggs." It is from Jane Watson Hopping's The Pioneer Lady's Country Christmas. These eggs are quite different from the usual devilled eggs, and the fresh lemon juice really kicks up the flavor! DS is CRAZY about these stuffed eggs-- he loves them with extra lemon.
Delicious Stuffed Eggs
6 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T VERY FINELY chopped sweet onion
1 T fresh lemon juice (more to taste)
3 T sour cream
Mayonnaise, for adjusting texture as needed
Paprika and parsley, for garnishing
1. Peel the eggs and cut each in half length-wise. Remove the yolks and place in a medium, non-reactive bowl. Set the whites cut side up on a serving platter.
2. Mash the yolks with a fork. If you wish, you can also force through a sieve. Stir in the dry mustard, salt, and pepper.
3. Blend in the onion, lemon juice, and sour cream. Add enough mayonnaise to make the filling creamy and light.
4. Spoon the filling into the egg whites. (Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip to pipe filling into shells.)
5. Dust the stuffed eggs with paprika and garnish the platter with parsley.
One of these would be nice to have:
CLICK to enlarge image