Saturday, November 22, 2014

Perfect Hard-boiled Eggs

We like hard-boiled eggs.  They are the basis for one of my family's favorite retro recipes:  a Trio of Deviled Eggs.

Sliced, they are one of my favorite ingredients to jazz up a simple dinner salad.  Blended, they can be used to thicken up a runny salad dressing.  Overcooked, they develop an ugly green ring around the yolk...

..and though it is harmless, it is also to be avoided.  So let me tell you how.

For starters, I use large eggs, not extra-large or jumbo.  Why, you ask?  Because I feel sorry for the poor chickens who lay those enormous eggs.  (Granny has her reasons.)  I boil anywhere from 8 to 18 at a time, depending on how I plan to use them.

First take an appropriately sized pan (large enough to hold the eggs in a single layer, not large enough to having them knocking around) and add some COLD water.  Then mix in about a tablespoon of baking soda.  Why, you ask?  Well, if there is one thing I hate, it's eggshells that stick to the eggs and make them almost impossible to peel.  I have tried any number of remedies, but this one seems to work the best.

Gently arrange the raw eggs in the pan and add more cold water to cover, then place the pan on the stove on high heat.  And wait.

Wait for the water to come to a full boil.  What do I mean by a full boil, you ask?  Well, here is how to figure out if you have a full boil going on:  When the water starts to bubble and roll, gently stir with a spoon.  If the rolling stops, you're not there yet.  If it keeps up despite how much you stir, get ready to set your timer.

You may need to experiment with timing a bit, as it can vary slightly depending on your altitude, the type and size of eggs you use, etc.  Try 9 minutes to start, and then crack open one of the eggs and check the color of the yolk.

If the yolk has that green-gray ring, drop the time back to 8 minutes the next time.  If the yolk is more brightly yellow-colored in the center (i.e., slightly undercooked) go for 10 minutes.  (Neither of these conditions should be a problem, so go ahead and use your batch of boiled eggs.  But I said we would be making PERFECT hard-boiled eggs, and I meant it.)

Finally, when the timer goes off, immediately pour off the boiling water and flush the pan of cooked eggs with cold water until the eggs are barely warm to the touch.

Then place the eggs into a bowl of ice water.  Why, you ask?  Because hot eggs will continue to cook, even after you've taken them out of the boiling water.  Plunging them into icy cold water stops the cooking process.  (You worked so hard to figure out the best timing, so why blow it now?)

Voila!  Perfect hard-boiled eggs.

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