Nothing is more seductive than wedges of perfect hard-cooked egg —tender whites surrounding golden yolks—nestled into a Niçoise salad, freshly chopped on marinated green beans, delicately served on a spicy arugula salad, or sprinkled over an anchovy tomato pizza. Below is an easy foolproof method for a perfect hard-cooked egg and from there, anything is possible.
Very fresh eggs are difficult to peel because the air pocket beneath the shell hasn't yet developed, which is why eggshells stick to the egg white. Eggs that are a week old are best to hard-cook. If you use very fresh eggs, add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. The salt reacts through the porous shell, helping to separate the thin membrane from the white.
Depending on how many eggs you are cooking, bring an appropriate-size pot of water to a full boil. Place the eggs gently in the water with a Chinese strainer or a slotted spoon. Turn the heat down slightly to keep the vigorous boil from cracking the eggs against the pot. After exactly 8 minutes, remove the eggs swiftly. Using the strainer or slotted spoon, plunge the eggs into an ice-water bath to cool. After 1 minute, crack and peel the eggs. Place the peeled eggs in the ice bath for another minute, then remove. The yolks will be a deep golden orange-just set, perfect for pristine garnishes.
For firmer yolks, cook the eggs 9 to 10 minutes. Nine-minute eggs are ideal for sieving cleanly through a fine-mesh metal strainer over Egg and Beet Salad, 10-minute eggs are great for Nanny's Sweet Pickled Egg Salad and Ham and Egg Croquettes.
Country Egg, City Egg
By Gayle Pirie and John Clark
Artisan, April 2000
128 Pages, 50 illustrations
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created May 2000
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