Saturday, February 25, 2017

RECIPE - Hard boiled eggs

I hate it when it is nearly impossible to neatly peel a hard boiled egg. So every time I read an article with someone's magic recipe for how to have perfect hard boiled eggs that peel easily, I try it. I am always disappointed. That is because they don't tell you the most important thing - a very fresh egg will NOT peel easily no matter what method you use.

Eggs are one of nature's most perfect foods. And they are encased in great natural packaging. If an egg is not washed, you can safely leave it sit on your counter for a month. There is a natural film on the shell that creates a barrier to keep your eggs safe.

A commercial egg is washed, and that film / barrier has been removed. So you might want to refrigerate them. Mine are on the counter in this great little red ceramic egg carton that I bought. (Just for fun I keep my chicken salt and pepper shakers next to it - a gift from my daughter-in-law Julie, who always seemed to know what I would like.)

Eggs ready for action!
I know, they have been washed, and even if fresh from the farmer at the South Bend Farmers Market, by law they must be washed. But they are gone from my countertop quickly, and I'm still alive. They are never out there more than two weeks. And when the recipe calls for an "egg brought to room temperature," I'm good to go immediately. (One caveat -- if you need to separate whites from yolks, a cold egg separates more easily.)

So back to that egg's natural packaging. In spite of it, an egg begins to shrink inside that shell from day #1. And that shrinkage will be the difference between an egg that gets mutilated when trying to peel it and one from which the shell is easily removed. After just one week of aging on the counter, eggs will peel better because the albumin is shrinking away from the interior of the shell. When refrigerating, give them two weeks. When I was bringing in fresh eggs from the chickens on the farm, I would set a bowl of eggs into the back of the fridge for at least two weeks just for hard boiling. Once your eggs are at least two weeks old, some of those egg peeling pointers may actually make a difference. And three weeks should be guaranteed success, no matter what method you use.

I love Ina Garten's show, the Barefoot Contessa. And I love her method of hard boiling eggs. It is a little different from any I have seen, and I do recommend it. Most supermarket eggs will be well over a week or two old by the time you get them home. If you want guaranteed success, try keeping them for at least another week before hard boiling. If they are straight from the farm, don't use them for hard boiling until they have aged at least two weeks. So here goes, this is Ina's recipe with a couple of small tweaks:
  1. Put your eggs into a deep pan and cover completely with cold water.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil. Immediately turn off heat. (If electric stove, remove from burner. On my gas stove, I just let them sit there in the pan of hot water on the turned-off burner.)
  3. Here's where Ina's recipe is different. Leave them sit in the water for only FIVE MINUTES!
  4. Remove the eggs from the water. Don't rinse with cold water. Just let the warm eggs sit on the counter on a paper towel.
  5. Here's where Ina and I differ. She says to wait only two minutes before peeling. I recommend waiting about five minutes. The first egg I tried to peel at two minutes didn't do too well. At five minutes, they peeled beautifully.
  6. Now roll the eggs on the counter top with the palm of your hand. The shells will crack into a myriad of small bits.
  7. CAREFULLY peel. They should come off pretty well.
  8. If you are still having trouble, hold the egg under running water while you peel, my second tweak to Ina's wonderful method.
Great thing about this is that the yolks are still a beautiful yellow color, no green around the edges. They are on the very edge of still being soft in the middle, but they aren't.  They are just perfect!

Thanks, Ina.

Now I'm going to have another deviled egg for breakfast. Recipe for my favorite deviled eggs coming soon.

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