Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How To Get A Good Egg...Every Time.

I don't know about professional chefs, but most home cooks have some sort of culinary Achilles heel. Excluding my dislike for baking, for a long time my cooking weakness was hard and soft boiled eggs. My mother on the other hand has somehow always had the ability to properly cook an egg without giving it a second thought. No matter how many soft boiled eggs I asked for as a child, she never once over or under cooked even one. For years I tried to replicate her soft-boiled eggs, firm and perfectly white on the outside, with a bright, runny, canary yellow center. My soft-boiled eggs are the ugly stepchildren of hers, with the whites firming up as if only by chance and the yolks not quite the viscous texture it should be when properly done. When I tried to remedy this I ended up over correcting and throwing away an entire carton of dry, inedible eggs.

I had better luck with hard-boiling, but it was always hit or miss. Sometimes I'd under-cook and have to deal with a creamy-to-a-fault yolk, or over-cook and be forced to consume the rubbery whites and green, powdery yolks. That was, at least, until last year when I was informed of the 12 minute method. For anyone that has had trouble perfecting their hard-boiled egg technique, the 12 minute method is like sweet salvation. It's fool proof every time, guaranteed to give you a soft egg white with a perfectly amber and flaky yolk. I heard about it for about a year before bothering to try it, assuming that it was helpful but probably not perfect every time.

Well, needless to say I was wrong and I haven't looked back since. The technique came in handy last week as I worked on styling a shoot for Parents magazine (I'll let you know when it hits stands!), where among other things I needed to make and style a healthy snack for kids involving hard-boiled eggs. The 12 minute method gave me 4 perfect eggs so good, I used two for the shoot and snacked on the rest. The best part about the method is that it's easy to remember, and easy to execute. This is of course only good for chicken eggs, as smaller or larger eggs (like duck) would have varying times because of their size. The method essentially steams the eggs, instead of forcing you to time them at a rolling boil, when we know that everyone's stove is different. This eliminates the stove from the equation, and gently cooks the egg from the outside in. So, while I still haven't conquered my soft-boiled egg inadequacies, I'm halfway to winning the egg war. In the meantime, I'll just continue to force my mother to make them for me when she visits. Here's the 12 minute method for hard-boiling--I hope it helps you, and by all means, send me any soft-boiling advice you may have!

Perfect Hard-boiled Eggs (12 Minute Method)

Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil and immediately cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 12 minutes, then remove lid and run under cold water until eggs are cool. Refrigerate eggs until you need them (the longer they're cooled, the easier they'll be to peel). Enjoy!


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