Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The "Not So Boiled Egg"

Who would have ever thought boiled eggs aren't really boiled?  Ummm...not me.  In fact, pretty much everything I thought I knew about the seemingly simple task of cooking boiled eggs was...well...dead wrong.  Yes, I know.  I'm not often wrong but this is one of those rare exceptions.  The truth is, I never really cared much for boiled eggs.  I guess I had one too many at Easter one year and was ruined.  But then a few months back, my desire to improve my foundational skills in the kitchen drove me to join an online cooking school.  It sounds lame, I know, but all I can tell you is that I am learning a lot about things I thought I already knew.

As it turns out, boiled eggs aren't actually boiled, but simmered.  This is a very important distinction.  Have you ever noticed that grey ring around the outside of the yolk on most boiled eggs?  Did you ever wonder why boiled eggs often have a sulfer smell?  Well, I for one didn't like boiled eggs mainly for these two reasons.  The good news is, as I recently learned, both these issues can be attributed to improper cooking methods.

As you can see the eggs in my picture are nice and bright.  No pale yellow sulfer yolk here.  I can also vouch that there is no sulfer smell.  This is achieved by using the following method:

First - the water for boiling your eggs should start out cold then be brought to a boil.  Add about 2 Tsp of salt per liter and reduce the heat to a simmer.  To simmer, a liquid is held at a heat below the boiling point.  The water should only gently bubble to the surface with a small amount of bubbling action happening.

Second - add eggs that are not super fresh to the water using a spoon.  To determine the freshness of an egg, you simply place the egg in a measuring cup of water.  If the egg sits on the bottom and remains level, the eggs is very fresh.  If it rises on the fatter end, it is less fresh (which is ideal for "boiled eggs" as the air pocket that has grown inside the egg makes it easier to peel), and if it floats off the bottom you should not eat the egg.

Lastly - Now that your eggs are simmering, set a timer for 8 minutes for soft boiled eggs, 10 minutes for medium boiled, and 12 minutes for hard boiled eggs.  It is imperative that the eggs be removed from the water and placed immediately into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  This is what causes boiled eggs to over cook and form that nasty grey ring and sulfurous odor.  Do not skip this step or your efforts will be wasted.

Once the eggs are cooked, roll the eggs on the counter to gently crack them and then peel.  Slice and serve garnished however you like.  I guarantee, this method will have you reconsidering boiled eggs, or perhaps just enjoying them more than ever before.

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