Monday, August 13, 2012

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are delicious and satisfying to have on their own sprinkled with a bit of fine sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.  They're also great in salade niçoise, egg salad sandwiches, potato salads, deviled eggs, scotch eggs, cobb salads, chef's salads and even in tuna salads; I've come across several old-fashioned cookie recipes which call for them too.  Cooking hard boiled eggs to perfection is very easy and it's a basic task every home cook ought to know how to do.  Once you see how simple it is to make a good egg in this manner, you will find yourself enjoying them more often in your home.

I make hard boiled eggs several times a month, because we love to snack on them during weekend brunches, but if I want to use them during the week for other recipes, I make several ahead of time and keep them refrigerated until needed.  It's preferable to use eggs that are at least a few days old rather than farm fresh ones in order to peel them with ease.  Although called 'hard boiled', one doesn't truly boil the eggs for any duration whatsoever.  Eggs like to be cooked gently, whether they're being fried, scrambled, coddled, soft boiled, hard boiled or when making omelets.  Always start them in cold water and make sure you have a reliable timer at the ready.  



 However many eggs you're hard boiling, find a pot that will allow the eggs to sit in a single layer. 


Cover the eggs with plenty of cold water.  As you can see the eggs are snug in this saucepan, but there is still a bit of wiggle room for them to move around.

Set the pot over your heat source and bring it up to a hard simmer (above).  As soon as it does, turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid and set your timer. 

Do not let the water come up to a full rolling boil.    

 Cooking Time
  • Small & medium eggs : 10 minutes
  • Large eggs: 12 minutes
  • Extra large eggs: 15 minutes
  • Jumbo eggs: 16 minutes
Egg Sizes & Weights (one egg)
  • small egg: 1 ounce {28.3 grams}
  • medium egg: 1.75 ounces {49.6 grams}
  • large egg: 2 ounces {56.7 grams}
  • extra large egg: 2.25 ounces {63.8 grams}
  • jumbo egg: 2.5 ounces {70.9 grams}
When the time is up, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and carefully drop them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  As soon as they're cool, they're ready to be eaten.  

Note: cooked eggs in their shells will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.  Making several ahead of time will certainly allow you to prepare all kinds of dishes with them during the week.  This is indeed a good thing. 

When ready to peel, rock them back and forth with the palm of your hand on your counter using pressure, until they crack all around.  Peel them gently and when done, devour!

Perfectly cooked.  Perfectly delicious.  This was a very fresh egg which made it a bit difficult for me to peel.  A few pieces of stubborn egg white could not be peeled clean from the shell, but since these were meant to be used in another recipe, I didn't mind one bit. 



As you can see there is no real mystery behind perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs.  Whatever you do, bypass those containers of peeled, hard boiled eggs found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets (don't even get me started on these!).  Instead, buy a dozen of the best available eggs and cook them at home.  Summer picnics at the beach or shore almost always require some egg salad sandwiches.  My mother makes her tuna salad with a couple of hard boiled eggs and for me, they make all the difference in the world.  Whether you're making one or one dozen hard boiled eggs, remember, use cold water to start and always turn off your heat as soon as the water comes to a hard simmer.  Time them, cool them, peel them and enjoy them!     

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