This dish is “eggs-actly perfect”
One of the greatest delights of writing this column is the approach by the public.
In the past two weeks, we have attended several graduations and within this gathered group of souls are cooks who are sharing their concerns. A woman clutched my arm the other day and explained she was up to her elbows in eggs that “were not peeling worth a darn.” Another cook shared with me that he could be pulled at great speeds behind his boat while water skiing in Olympic form, yet he wondered, “Just how can I be such a flop when it comes to boiling eggs!” Bless these dear souls for sharing and bringing a smile to my face – and thus this column.
I could relate to these two aspiring cooks as they shared their ride of pure unhappiness with a wavering hardboiled egg. After all, when you’re planning the perfect deviled egg, this is not the time for the shell of the egg to be agitated and indecisive. To avoid such dithers with eggs, I know “eggs-actly” what you need to be doing. Your relationship with eggs needs to improve. Dating, and maybe even coddling, the eggs could be the answer. You will not need to get all dolled up for this date. In fact, let your faux crocodile stilettos rest in the closet.
After all, you have been trying to impress Aunt Betty for years. When she witnesses your perfectly peeled deviled eggs chilling out on Aunt Agnes’ soft blue egg plate trimmed in 24k gold, your score with her will go sky high! Now to achieve this state of peace with Aunt Betty, let me share a few tips on the art of hard boiling eggs.
Having high standards is the best way to maintain quality in the kitchen. This certainly applies to eggs. My former neighbor in Underwood, Millie Hoff, was known affectionately as the egg lady. She loved to raise eggs, which she did just up the road from our home. She gathered her eggs in white enameled pails with red trim. She carefully cleaned them and put them on display in her egg salon–the front entrance of her aqua-colored cottage home. Sorting them by color and size was her trademark. Of course, the dark speckled ones were the most couture. I can still hear the excitement in her voice as she would say, “Oh, Charlie, now these are some fine eggs for baking.” Millie’s eggs were always fresh. This was my foundation for eggs.
In my life experiences, I have enjoyed several very fine cooking lessons. One of these included lengthy lessons on boiling eggs. In this class, we learned of poking the end of the egg with a pin. (Long story and this will have to be for another column!) I know there are readers out there who struggle with getting eggs to peel, so I will attempt to share with you my easy method of hard boiled eggs.
First of all, when I purchase eggs in the store, I like to rinse them in hot water. Often store purchased eggs are sprayed with a very thin coat of mineral oil to preserve them. It is important to understand the rule that older eggs do make far better hard boiled eggs because of alkaline found in older eggs. I did not discover this, but rather some hard working scientist. Newly-laid eggs are more acidic than alkaline. Over time, the microscopic pores in the eggshell allow for this transformation. This does not happen if the eggs are coated with mineral oil.
Planning is important when you want eggs to peel very well. I prefer to have eggs at least 1 week before I would consider undressing them. It is also important to note that if your eggs are too stale they will not produce perfectly round centered yolks. These stale eggs may be perfectly edible, however. We all have a least one relative who notices when a hung picture is one fourth of an inch off center. So if Uncle Perry with the perfect eyes is coming to dinner, now you know how to center the egg yolks!
Here are my rules for hard cooked eggs that peel with ease: Select a pan that will allow eggs to rest uncrowded. Cover them with at least one inch of cold water. I never cook eggs without at least six cups of water. Some folks feel that adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt makes the eggs easier to peel. (I prefer not to do this because I often use my egg water to water house plants.)
Once the eggs are settled into the kettle and are enjoying the water bath, it is time to easy up the heat. Have you every experienced that dark line between the yolk and white? This is a chemical reaction between the yolk and the white that is heightened by excess heat. So I start with a low heat. When the water starts to have a bit of gurgle, I let them boil/cook for five minutes or less– this is for large eggs. Next, I remove them from the heat and at this point place a lid on them and let them set in this warm water for 15 minutes. Immediately when the time is expired, I drain them and place a mass of ice cubes over them and then add cold water to cover. Let this set for 40 to 50 minutes and then drain. Tap your eggs at each end gently and then peel them under running cold water. They should peel without trouble. With the season of potato salad fast upon us, it is nice to be able to produce easy-to-peel eggs. With the many grievances I’ve heard about hard to peel eggs, I no longer wonder why super markets offer peeled eggs! With a little practice, your eggs will turn out easy and also save you money at the store!
We have one of the best egg peelers around. Miss Lydia peels all the eggs in our home with this method. Her sweet little fingers remove the egg shells with ease, and she smiles and says “Oh, Daddy, I do like to peel eggs.”
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