I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for an easy-to-make, energy-dense, and easy-to-eat breakfast food. And I think I’ve found it in the simple boiled egg.
Boxed cereals are way overpriced (not to mention that most contain so much sugar that they make your mouth hurt). Oatmeal pretty much grosses me out. Fruit is great but by itself isn’t an energy-dense enough meal for me, leaving me a starving hypoglycemic shell of myself by 10am (Forgive a tangent: I’ll write an entire post at some point on the concept of the “energy density” of food because it plays such an important role in your energy levels, body weight, body fat, and overall health).
But eggs are pretty much the perfect food, not just because they meet all of these aforementioned requirements, but also because they are quite good for you too.
So today, I’m going to give a tutorial on how to make a perfectly boiled egg every time. You can benefit from my years of experience boiling and peeling eggs (okay, so maybe I haven't amounted to much in life...) and enjoy all the benefits of one of nature’s nearly perfect foods. :)
What Can Go Wrong?
These are the primary problems that crop up when boiling eggs:
1) The eggs crack and leak when you boil them, leaving white goo everywhere in the pan, or causing rubbery egg white to bulge and blob outside of the eggshell.
2) The fricking shells won’t peel off easily, and the egg white sticks to the shell as you peel it off.
3) Your eggs are under- or overdone relative to your tastes.
Avoiding Shell Crackage
Nobody wants an egg with rubbery white leaking outside the shell. Typically this problem occurs when you subject a refrigerated egg to a more massive temperature change than it can handle, causing the shell to break. It’s easy to avoid this:
1) First place your eggs in a pot of cool water and place on stove.
2) Then set burner to medium-low only for 3-4 minutes.
3) Only THEN do you turn the burner to medium high.
4) When water then reaches a rolling boil, turn the burner OFF and set the timer for 10 minutes.
Adding steps 1-3 will dramatically reduce the odds of a broken or cracked egg. These little guys are not lobsters, to be cruelly plopped into a pot of already boiling water. Treat them with care and gentleness!
Cooking Eggs to Perfection
Now this next bit of subtlety depends on what kind of eggs you are using. Are you using medium eggs? Large? Extra large? Jumbo? Ostrich? We will adjust the amount of time we set on the timer based on both the way you want your egg cooked AND the type of egg you are using.
Do you DEMAND your egg to be fully, solidly cooked through? If so, then add one minute to make it 11 minutes for large eggs and extra-large eggs. Add two minutes for jumbo eggs to make it 12 minutes. I was kidding about the ostrich eggs, but if you're dying to know, leave a comment below and I can look into it.
What if you want your eggs to be a little gooey in the center? Then set the timer for just 7-8 minutes for medium eggs (experiment with this a little to get the timing down exactly), with adding perhaps an extra minute for extra large or jumbo eggs to make it 8 or 9 minutes.
Finally, I’ll share with you a technique for cracking and peeling off the eggshell that works extremely consistently:
First drain the hot water out of the pan, and replace with a couple of inches of cold water (enough to mostly cover the eggs).
Then take an egg and crack it thoroughly on the edge of the pan, make sure all of the shell is nicely broken up all around the entire surface of the egg. (Note that it doesn’t HAVE to be the side of the pan. You can crack your egg on whatever you like: on the floor, on your rock hard abs, on the side of your head, etc. Go crazy. Just try and keep it out of your eyes).
Um, right. Okay... while you’re cracking the egg on whatever surface you’ve chosen, make sure the eggshell is thoroughly cracked all over the surface of the egg. Then--and here’s the important part--place the egg BACK into the water after you crack it. Let the egg sit there for 30 seconds to one minute, to let water seep into the cracks in the shell and around the inside of the shell. THEN peel off the shell. This is the critical step that will protect the white from sticking to the shell when you peel the shell off! The shell should come off quite easily.
How to Season a Boiled Egg?
Some people will put butter (or worse, margarine) on their eggs. I do not condone this. I also know that some misguided souls might shake a little salt onto their boiled egg. Some truly unethical souls might shake a LOT of salt onto their boiled egg. But readers of this blog all know that using salt = cheating.
I suggest you do this instead: shake a little cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper onto the egg and leave it at that. Try it! It’ll add a little fire to your morning.
A Final Note: Cholesterol
I know the primary objection most people have to eating eggs is their fear of cholesterol. Please don’t get wrapped around the axle on this issue. In my case, thanks to lots of long-distance running and a tendency to overindulge in red wine, I have great cholesterol numbers and ratios despite the fact that I eat boiled eggs for breakfast two to three times a week.
If you are dying to eat multiple boiled eggs every day, AND your cholesterol is high, then that’s a different story. In that case, I’d suggest you limit yourself to at most one egg maybe four or five times a week.
If you really can’t restrain yourself and simply must have multiple eggs every day (I secretly hope that my readership has more classic addictions like dark chocolate or pie or something... but hey, there are all kinds of people out there), at least skip the yolks and just eat the whites. Or barring that, pour yourself a little extra Chianti a few times a week with dinner, and then consider exercising a little bit every other day to get your HDL numbers a bit higher. :)