Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Hard Boil an Egg

Dateline: Memorial Day

While making potato salad for our Memorial Day picnic yesterday, a mystery of the universe was revealed to me in the kitchen: if you put eggs on the stove to make hard-boiled eggs, the eggs will always be soft-boiled when you crack them open - no matter how long you leave them to boil! Furthermore, the inverse and equally true prinicple is: if you try to soft-boil an egg, it will hard-boil instantaneously. I'm sure many of you have experienced this conundrum of egg cookery and can back me up on this observation.
Knowing this basic boiled egg principle, I wondered if it's possible to fake out the egg by saying very loudly to it, or the kitchen gods, or whoever is messing with my head, "NOW I'M PUTTING THESE EGGS IN THE PAN TO HARD-BOIL!" if I want soft-boiled and visa-versa. But no, that doesn't work either. The eggs know. I don't know how they know, but they do.
Here are some books and websites that teach how to boil an egg:

Better Homes and Gardens Anyone Can Cook
(p.436 for the hard-boiled egg lesson) 641.5 ANY

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
(soft-boiled and hard-boiled instructions on p. 733) 641.5 BIT

'How to boil an egg' from the eHow website, includes video and written instructions.

By the way, the phrase 'how to boil an egg,' when Googled, results in over 3 millions hits, so I'm guessing many, many people have experienced the egg boiling principle and many, many chefs are trying to help us outsmart eggs. As for me, I will concede defeat in the face of the egg elves and only have eggs at that most wonderful of New Jersey institutions: the diner. Over-easy, thanks.
Illustration from BBC news

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