There are a number of ways to create a
well-cooked, tasty and perfectly shaped egg. Julia Child’s hard-boiled
egg method is somewhat complicated. It starts with piercing a pinhole
1/4-inch deep into the large end of an egg—allowing the air bubble
inside to escape—then placing the eggs (no more than 12 at a time) in
a deep saucepan and covering them with 3 1/2 quarts of cold water.
Bring just to a rolling boil, remove from heat, cover the pan and let
sit for exactly 17 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water
and let chill for 2 minutes to shrink the egg body from the shell.
Meanwhile, reheat the water to a boil.
Lower six chilled eggs at a time into the water and let boil exactly 10
seconds to expand the shell from the egg body. Then chill for at least
20 minutes so they’re easier to peel. To do so, crack each egg gently
all over on your work surface, then peel under a small stream of cold
water, starting at the large end. The eggs will keep perfectly for
several days when submerged in cold water and left uncovered in the
The problem with this method is that
Child doesn’t take into account the size of the egg. According to an
article in an old issue of Cuisine magazine, a small or medium
egg takes 10 minutes to hard-boil, a large egg takes 11 minutes, extra
large 12 minutes and jumbo 13 minutes. Following Child’s 17- minute
sitting time for a medium egg might result in overcooking.
Also, one suggestion that conflicts
somewhat with the “no boil” method is to put four eggs into a 1-quart
saucepan, then adding enough water to cover them by 1/2 inch. Bring
water to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to moderately high and cook
eggs at a gentle boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Pour off hot water if
using right away, shake pan gently so eggs bump into one another (to
crack the shells), then run cold water into the pot to stop cooking.
Let stand for 15 minutes, adding more cold water or ice to keep water
cold. By using this method, water will seep between the shells and
whites, making peeling less of a chore.
No matter how careful you are with
boiling your eggs, some shells may crack. Adding salt to the cooking
water will coagulate the proteins in the egg to seal cracks that may
occur and keep the white from feathering through the water. A teaspoon
of salt for up to two dozen eggs is plenty. Putting vinegar in the
water would also speed up coagulation, but the acid will also make the
eggs more difficult to peel.
The best egg is one that has been
freshly laid by a free-range or organically raised hen, but they come
at a cost. Gone are the dozen large eggs for 99 cents. The price has
risen more than 25 percent per dozen in just the last few months. Eggs
from caged hens were recently priced at $3.99 at Wal-Mart.
Grade A or Grade AA eggs are most
commonly found on supermarket shelves. They are both just as nutritious
as free-range and organic eggs, if a bit paler and less rich-tasting.
Grade B eggs, much cheaper than any other grade or process, may be used
for cooking where other ingredients mask the quality of the egg; think
muffins or sauces. They are also mostly used for commercial purposes.
By the way, brown eggs are no different
than white ones. The color of the shell comes from pigment produced by
the hen. The color of the egg yolk doesn’t matter, either. One that is
a rich yellow may look nice but it doesn’t contribute one way or the
other to the egg’s taste or nutritive value. Also, any blood spot found
inside an egg has no effect. Just lift the spot out, if you wish.
To determine freshness, check the pack
date on the box, which will run from “1” for Jan. 1, up through “365”
for Dec. 31. Most cartons also have an expiration date, which can be no
more than 30 days after the pack date.
A large egg contains about 76 calories,
of which the yolk has 59 and the white 17. The yolk contains all the
vitamins except C, plus significant amounts of iron, phosphorus,
protein and fat. The fat, alas, is saturated and the yolk is high in
cholesterol. So enjoy your eggs, but in moderation. Or use one fewer
yolk and one more white.
For years, deviled eggs have been party
and summer picnic mainstays. The foodstuff correctly refers to the yolk
of hard-boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise and a little hot sauce—hence
the term “deviled”—and put back into the hollow of the white. In Joy of Cooking
the deviled egg recipe starts with one for stuffed eggs (hard-boiled
eggs mashed with mayonnaise), then adding three drops or more to taste
of hot red pepper sauce to the yolks, and garnishing with paprika.
There are myriad recipes for deviled
eggs. The simple mayonnaise-based variety punches up the cooked yolk
with chopped herbs or Dijon mustard. Mixed with avocado or chopped
spinach, they take on a green tinge. Mix in crabmeat for an elegant
twist or, for the ultimate, top with a dollop of caviar.
Note that the porous nature of eggshells
makes them highly susceptible to neighboring smells, so they should be
kept away from strong-smelling foods such as onions or ripe cheese.
Store eggs in the refrigerator, in the cartons they came in, with the
rounded end up. The closed container protects the eggs from air
penetration, which slows the loss of moisture and carbon dioxide,
preserving freshness. When hard-boiling, be sure the egg is at room
temperature, since those straight from the refrigerator may crack when
plunged into boiling water.
This recipe is from Culinary Collection, published in 1971 by the Members Council of the Everson Museum of Art. Omit the bacon and you have a tasty vegetarian supper.
5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
2 cups sliced sweet onions (like Vidalia)
¼ cup butter
8 ounces Swiss cheese, cut in julienne strips
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons diced green pepper
3 tablespoons diced pimiento
1 can cream of celery soup
¼ cup milk
8 thin slices French bread, buttered
2 to 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Place sliced eggs in bottom of
rectangular 2½-quart casserole dish. Cook onions in butter, but do not
brown, then place on top of the eggs. Cover with cheese strips. Make
sauce of soup, milk, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, pimiento and
green pepper and pour over top of casserole. Lay buttered bread slices
over sauce, overlapping slices. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30
minutes and place under broiler for a minute or two to brown. If you
like, garnish with bacon. May be prepared in advance and baked just
before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Hard-Boiled Egg Salad
Egg salad usually consists of
hard-boiled eggs, quartered, and mixed with mayonnaise, chopped celery,
and salt and pepper. Here is an interesting take on a favorite classic
that makes a great presentation for a summer luncheon.
6 hard-boiled eggs
½ pound unsalted butter
6 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt, cayenne pepper
1 cup canned tuna fish
1 cup diced cooked green beans
1 cup diced cooked carrots
1 cup diced skinned and pitted tomato
4 cups boiled rice
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 whole beaten egg
1 bunch watercress
3 small gherkins
A little pimiento
Shell the eggs and cut in half
lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place the white in a bowl of
cold, clear water. Rub the egg yolks through a strainer. Beat the
butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and continue beating
for a few moments. Divide the mixture in half and add to half the
beaten cream cheese and the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper
and set aside. Rub the tuna through a strainer and mix with the other
half of the egg mixture. Season and set aside.
Mix all the diced vegetables lightly and
carefully with the rice. Place in a screw-top jar the oil, vinegar,
salt, pepper, lemon juice and beaten egg. Shake well and mix with the
rice. Arrange in a large salad bowl and make a hole in the center. Fill
the hole with the watercress. Place around the edge the drained,
hard-piled egg whites and fill them alternately with the tuna fish
mixture and the cream cheese mixture. Piping these ingredients through
a pastry bag makes a nice presentation, although it’s not necessary.
Decorate the tops with sliced gherkins and pimientos and serve. Makes 4
to 6 servings.
Curried Egg Salad
6 hard-cooked eggs
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon curry powder
2 dozen cooked asparagus tips
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup French dressing
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Split the eggs lengthwise. Mash the
yolks with the mayonnaise and seasonings and use as stuffing for the
whites. Use a well-spiced mayonnaise or add a little mustard or lemon
juice to sharpen the flavor. You may wish to increase the amount of
curry, but the aim of this recipe is to produce a bland, elusive
flavor. For each serving arrange three of the curried egg halves and
half a dozen asparagus tips on a bed of leaf lettuce. Sprinkle the
asparagus with grated cheese and French dressing, or any other light
dressing of your choosing, and sprinkle with chives. Use cherry
tomatoes and ripe olives as garnishes. Makes 4 servings.
is a low-fat recipe that eliminates the familiar mayonnaise with tasty
results. Eliminating the three yolk halves also lowers cholesterol
6 hard-boiled eggs
¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese.
3 tablespoons prepared fat-free ranch dressing
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or dill
1 tablespoon diced well-drained pimiento or roasted red pepper
Slice eggs lengthwise in half. Remove
yolks, reserving 3 halves. Discard remaining yolks or reserve for
another use. Place eggs whites, cut sides up, on a serving plate; cover
with plastic wrap. Chill while preparing filling. Combine cottage
cheese, dressing, mustard and reserved yolk halves in food processor;
process until smooth. Or place in small bowl and mash with fork until
blended. Transfer cottage cheese mixture to small bowl; stir in chives
and pimiento. Spoon into eggs whites. Cover and chill at least 60
minutes. Makes 12 servings.