Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The egg and I.

I got off to a bad start with eggs. I was nineteen, out of home, and cooking for three.

I started with an egg. (Another time I cooked five sausages by placing them into a red hot pan to which they fused. Ten minutes later I had ships of raw sausage meat decks over carbon holds.)

I placed the egg in a saucepan and placed the saucepan on the stove and lit the stove. So far so good.

Then I went into another room and did something else. I don't know, putting clothes away, reading the sports section, making a landline phone call. Could have been anything.

Eight minutes later I came back into the kitchen. I sniffed the air. But it was too late. There was a sudden explosion, like a light globe being shot out. Something hit the ceiling. In fact, a lot of things hit the ceiling, and the upper parts of the walls. And they were all pale yellow.

I had forgotten the water.

The egg had heated up and exploded. It took me a day to clean the ceiling and I was still finding bits of egg and shell months later.

Until recently my early egg experience was still haunting me, and making me unable to boil an egg properly, so that it could be easily shelled. Then one day I decided this was just superstition and that I should get over it and learn how to do the job properly. Previously, my egg shells had always seemed to stick to the white and the peeled eggs looked like they had flesh-eating disease.

So I got over the early bad experience, did a bit of research, and learned how to boil an easy-peel egg. And this is how you do it.

The first mistake I used to make was to boil chilled eggs, because I kept them in the fridge. Eggs can be stored at room temperature, but if you must chill them, allow them to come to room temperature first. You can speed this up by placing them in a glass of warm water while you bring the water you are going to cook them in to the boil.

Yes! You boil the water first. Previously, I was putting cold eggs in cold water and then cooking them slowly. Instead, lower the room temperature eggs gently into simmering water with a spoon. Gradual lowering will help stop them cracking.

The next part is trial and error. For soft boiled eggs, I turn off the heat after four minutes, and leave the eggs in the water another five minutes. But your stove, pot, water and egg size will mean this is variable.

After five minutes, I drain them gently, rinse them under cold water to cool the shells so they won't burn my fingers, then I crack each egg on the tiled bench, and the shell comes away easily.

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