2012 ended up being the year of the egg for me in the kitchen. I set out to find the perfect way to make soft boiled eggs and I failed miserably.
I failed so miserably that I promised to never try them again. I relinquished myself to only having poached eggs in my own kitchen.
Then last month I opened the latest Cook’s Illustrated to find, apparently, the perfect way to cook a soft boiled egg.
As you might imagine, I was very skeptical. But after reading the thousands of words that were devoted to finding and testing all the egg-cooking methods, I decided I had to try it.
I did so and I almost cried when my eggs came out. They were perfect. I’ve replicated the results a few times since and so I figured I should write something about it.
As a bonus, I’m partnering with the people over at Cook’s Illustrated to do a cool giveaway at the end of this post! They are the ones who get all the credit for this method and its awesomeness.
1) Bring about 1/2 inch of water to a boil over medium high heat in a pot big enough to hold your eggs in one layer.
2) When water is boiling, add eggs straight from the fridge.
3) Cover pot and let cook for 6 1/2 minutes exactly.
4) Uncover pot and run cold water over eggs for 30 seconds.
5) Peel eggs starting with the larger end of the egg and slowly working up the egg.
6) Eat eggs immediately on whatever you want or store them for later!
Big props to Andrea Geary at Cook's Illustrated for coming up with this method.
Cooking the Eggs
For this method to work, the only things you need to remember when picking out the eggs are:
1) Get large or extra large eggs.
2) Move them straight from the fridge to the hot water. You don’t want them to come to room temperature before cooking.
Also, older eggs seem to be easier to peel after cooking. That said, I had good results peeling these eggs and I cooked them the same day I bought them. If they are fresher though, you’ll need a bit more patience while you peel.
Cooking The Eggs
There are a million variables that go into the soft-boiled egg and I won’t reproduce the crazy analysis that went into their article. You should just go buy it if you care.
In short, the main issue with reproducing good soft-boiled eggs is that when you put the eggs in water, the water decreases in temperature and takes a while to return to the right temperature. So depending on the pot you are using, how many eggs you’re cooking, and your water levels, you can get pretty drastic results.
They removed this variable by using a very small amount of water. They recommend about a 1/2 inch of water in the pan. What this means is that you are basically steaming the eggs instead of boiling them and the little amount of water in the pan will rapidly return to a boil regardless of how many eggs you cook.
I’m fairly confident that this method will work for anybody because it worked for me with one egg, three eggs, and six eggs on the very first try.
The chances of that happening randomly are approximately zero.
The method is really very easy.
Add 1/2 inch of water to your pan and bring it to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Once it’s boiling, add in your eggs in a single layer in the pan.
Cover the lid, return the pan to the heat, and set a timer for exactly 6 minutes 30 seconds. 390 seconds. No more. No less.
The pan should almost immediately return to a simmer which is what you want.
When the timer goes off, remove the lid and immediately run the eggs under cold water for thirty seconds.
This completely stops the cooking.
At this point the eggs are done!
You can eat them immediately or save them for later. The whites will be nicely set and the yolks still runny.
Peeling a Soft Boiled Egg
Peeling eggs is always stressful. Especially if you know you’ve cooked them perfectly, it sucks to lose eggs because you can’t peel them.
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a 100% way to make sure you can peel the eggs right every time. I even tried the blow method which works great on hard-boiled eggs but leaves you with a handful of runny yolks for these.
The best chance you have is to make sure you are using slightly older eggs and to start cracking them at the larger end of the egg.
There’s a little air bubble that is normally on that end and you can use that to get a good start peeling. Work slowly and use the membrane around the egg to help lift the shell away from the egg.
It takes a bit of patience but I can usually peel one in about a minute or less.
To be honest, not all of my eggs peeled perfectly. One had some cracks but still very edible and one was a complete loss. Out of ten I tried from two different dozens of eggs (not a large sample size I realize), I peeled seven that I would consider pretty perfect.
Like this one.
These go well on pretty much anything. Serve them on toast, salads, or in soups.
They are just plain excellent.
This whole egg experience reminded me how amazing Cook’s Illustrated is. If you’re serious about becoming a good home cook, I’m not sure that there’s a better resource out there to deliver great recipes.
To that end, I’m giving away three one-year subscriptions to the printed Cook’s Illustrated publication. Because they are awesome, Cook’s Illustrated is also giving away three subscriptions to the online site where you can get access to tons of recipes and videos.
Printed subscription winners:
Sarah Lustberg (facebook)
Starletta Schipp (Twitter)
Sara Chatfield (comment)
Online Subscription winners:
Stacey Gold (Google+)
Priyanka Anand (comment)
Kate Bigam (Twitter)
Thanks everyone for reading and happy holidays!