One of the most daunting culinary tasks is also one of the most basic – boiling an egg. Whether you’re after soft-boiled or hard boiled eggs, they can be cooked to any degree of doneness by timing them just right. As with so many cooking techniques, practice makes perfect. And remember: if you’re making hard boiled eggs, the fresher the egg the more difficult it is to peel cleanly. Über fresh eggs will be difficult to work with if you’re after smooth-surfaced deviled eggs, for example.
So – how many minutes do you need? These are the cooking times you should aim for when boiling your eggs:
4 minutes for a soft-boiled egg: the white is set and the yolk is runny
5-6 minutes for a medium-boiled egg: the white is cooked and the yolk is cooked but still soft
10-15 minutes for a hard-boiled egg; both the white and yolk are firm
The shorter time for a hard-boiled egg leaves some of the yolk slightly underdone; the latter cooks it through. To boil them, submerge in enough gently boiling water to cover the eggs without crowding them – start the timer as soon as you lower them into the water. (If you like, you could use a pin or needle to gently poke a hole in the broad end of each egg – this alleviates the pressure created by the swelling egg white and eliminates cracked shells.) When they’re done, plunge them into cold running water to stop the cooking process. Leave them under the water for awhile if you want to cool them completely.
Photo credit: istockphoto/AbbieImages