A Good Egg
I consider myself a fairly practiced home cook—I guess most people would tend to feel confident if they have done something most every day for the past 30 years or so. That’s a lot of practice when you get right down to it. But there are certain areas of food preparation that have always stymied me, such as cooking a perfect medium rare steak no matter its thickness. (And yes, I realize I could use a thermometer, but that seems like cheating. Besides poking a hole in a cooking steak is just wrong.)
Another one of the food areas where I needed to step up my game was egg cooking.
For such a seemingly simple thing, eggs can be hard. (Pun intentional.) I have known for a while that low and slow is the way to go with most egg preparations, so I have that down. I also know that the color of the egg doesn’t really matter—brown or white; it’s the freshness and quality that is important. So here’s my two cents of knowledge of some egg techniques that I have picked up over the years:
Hard Boiled: It was a happy day when I finally found a way to boil eggs which doesn’t result in green/grey tinged yolks. Cover eggs with about an inch of water, bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover pan. Let sit for 13 mins for large eggs and 15 for extra large. Then cool thoroughly with ice cold water.
(By the way, did you know that older eggs peel better than fresh eggs? When I’m making deviled eggs, I make sure that they are at least a week out of the chicken.)
Omelette: After years of fooling around, I finally found an omelette method which is pretty fool proof. It’s fussy, but worth it. You can find it on my blog "I’m Such a Chicken When it Comes to Chickens", posted 2/16/10.
Incidently, it appears it is timely again. See Greg Peck’s August 10th post about chickens for additional details.
Poached egg: This is my most recent find and is the instigator of this post. I tried a number of approaches over the years: adding vinegar to the water, swirling the water, etc., however none of them got me the pretty restaurant quality egg I was seeking. The water would be filled with the ghostly white strands and the finished egg would be super ugly or taste vaguely like a pickle.
Recently while cookbook surfing, I found a method in the book, Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman that addressed my concerns exactly. The procedure was simple and led to a perfect poached egg. Break an egg into a small ramekin and then pour it (probably over a sink, duh) into a slotted spoon (something with smallish holes). The thin white of the egg (that which normally pollutes the water with the eggy film as you cook) drips through the holes and leaves the thick white part and the yolk behind. You will be surprised how much egg stays on top of the spoon. Slide the egg back into a ramekin—don’t break the yolk!
Meanwhile, heat a deep sauté pan of water to boiling. When you are ready to cook your egg, turn down the heat to low. When the water has stopped bubbling, gently pour the egg into the water. Use your spoon to (carefully!) coax some of the white over the top of the egg. (You can do about 1 to 3 eggs at a time with this method—use separate ramekins to facilitate the process.) Let the egg cook for about 4 minutes. Spray the slotted spoon lightly with cooking spray then lift the egg from the water, with a towel under the spoon catching the drips. The oil on the spoon then lets the fragile egg slide onto the plate without any fear of breaking the yolk. (That’s the eater’s job.)
Hopefully this should be enough to get you started on your way to egg excellence. Now I’m on to the souffle’…
Do you have any foolproof methods for cooking an egg? Do you live in a place where you can keep chickens? Just curious.