You know how sometimes you walk into you kitchen, grab the glass of water sitting on the counter, and just chug it, but halfway through you realize it isn’t water at all but your kid’s six hour old, flat, warm 7-up? You know how then you have no choice at all but to spray the entire kitchen with it, because having something gross in your mouth is only half as bad as having something you didn’t expect in your mouth?
Eggs are kind of like that. My stepmother used to make deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and picnics and stuff, and while they looked exactly like you thought they should, when you bit into them you’d get the culinary equivalent of a Rob Zombie movie in your mouth. There were all of these conflicting flavors, and chunks.
Nothing that would eventually contain tiny little bones should ever, ever have chunks.
They also shouldn’t look like you buried them in the ground and forgot about them for a few weeks. While I was in China last fall, they offered me a tea egg, which is just a hard boiled egg steeped in soy sauce and black tea leaves, which is harmless enough except that it is a brown egg, and I took enough ServSafe courses in my day to know that you never, ever eat the brown egg. (Note: Watching someone eat a brown egg is almost as horrible as watching that same someone eat fetal chickens on that same trip.)
My point is that it’s not always just what something tastes like. Sometimes what it looks like and what it feels like are just as important, if not more. We eat with all of our senses and when we cook, we have to consider them, especially cooking something like an egg. Eggs are touchy subjects for people – I think because we all start off as them, so we have some ownership stake. We’re all just a rung up the food chain from being someone’s bacon-dip. However you like your eggs, they have to be *perfect* or you can’t eat them, right? And while there’s a good amount of disconnect as to what a perfect egg is, there is only one way to make a perfect hard-boiled egg, and this is it.
- You take a pan of cold water and put your eggs in it.
- You can fill it up to the tip-top of the water, or only make two eggs, it doesn’t matter.
- You then bring that water up to just-a-boil (Impatience aside: It’ll take longer, because the eggs are cold and so is the water, so they both have to reach boiling point.)
- As soon as the water starts to boil, cover the pan and here’s the trick: Remove it from the heat entirely. If you have a gas range, turn the flame off, and if you have an electric range, take the pan off the burner.
- Then set a timer for 15 minutes and walk away. Go wax your mustache off or paint your toenails, but don’t touch that pan.
- After 15 minutes have elapsed, drain the hot water and run cold water over the eggs, to cool them enough to be touched.
- Peel the shells off before they cool. Cold shells don’t want to come off; hot shells peel off like prom dresses.
- I have never met even one person who did it on prom night, have you? I mean, I went home and watched X-Files with my dad. I don’t understand that analogy at all.
- Then keep them cooling. Removing something from heat doesn’t stop the cooking process, and this is why you should always undercook meat a little. It will keep cooking while it rests. You don’t want the eggs to cook anymore, so after you’ve peeled them, chill them in an ice-water bath for about 10 minutes.
- Drain the water, dry the eggs, and have at it.
When you slice them open, you’ll notice that there is no green ring inside your yolks. Green yolks are simply over-cooked eggs; they aren’t soured and then taste the same, they’re just too done. Bright yellow yolks and just done enough, and they’re gorgeous.
You can then turn them into this with a bit of mayo, a dab of mustard, a sprinkling of dill and a teeeeensy dash of paprika and salt. No celery, no onion, no anything that could be mistaken for a freaking bone.
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