There are a million egg stories in the naked city.
This is one of them.
It doesn’t take long to find out that there are a great many different techniques for creating a batch of “perfect” hard-boiled eggs. Some authors even advocate baking them in the oven or resorting to the drastic step of hard-boiling the eggs in a pressure cooker.
Denaturing the Protein
Eggs are primarily made up of protein, and when you subject them to heat, you denature that protein, which is why they change from a runny mostly liquid consistency to a solid, rubbery consistency. Marshall Brain explains the process nicely in this episode of the How Stuff Works podcast (a favorite of mine).
The trouble with eggs is that the yolk (yellow) and the albumen (white) denature at different temperatures. Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, has an elegant solution for this, one he calls the “Shock and Awe Method.” You can read about it in detail on page 183 of Cooking for Geeks, a book you should totally buy. But, in the meantime …
Here’s How it Works
First, you’ll need these things:
- One dozen (or more) eggs.
- Two pots of the same or similar size, filled with water that will cover the eggs
Then you need to do this:
- Bring one of your pots to a roiling boil.
- Place your eggs in this pot for 30 seconds.
- Remove them and place them in the other pot in room temperature water.
- Bring this pot to a boil, then simmer for eight to 12 minutes.
I usually stop the process after eight minutes (and not just because “egg” and “eight” both start with “e”). I’ve found the yolks are nice and flaky by then — and they’re hot, so they keep cooking. I’ll run some cold water over them to cool them down (after eating one first as a sample), then pop them in the refrigerator.
I’ve always had good results with this method. The eggs remain easy to peel and the yolks are solid, flaky, and never green or gray around the outer edge, even after refrigeration.
Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs
I’ve never had any trouble peeling eggs cooked with this method, but if you do, conventional wisdom says that you can add a teaspoon of baking soda during the boiling process or you can just blow them out of the shell like Tim Ferriss.
The Bad News
The only downside to making perfect hard boiled eggs with method is the time it takes. The whole process takes around 40 minutes, which seems a like a lot for a dozen eggs.
But then, you can’t rush perfection.
The second edition of the definitive guide dedicated to the science of cooking will teach you how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs and pretty much any other recipe you want to whip up.