One thing I find really interesting is that boiling the perfect egg is actually quite hard. Even great chefs struggle to get them consistently perfect. Personally I like my boiled eggs to have hard white but runny yoke. But this is actually quite hard to do because the yoke cooks quicker than the white. Does anyone know how to achieve this? One theory I have is that if the egg is cooked at a higher heat then the white may cook before the yoke gets over cooked because the egg cooks from the outside. But that may give it a bad texture that you get when you cook eggs to fast.
How do you get hard white and runny yoke?
Lower heat, shorter cooking time. More of a simmer, not a boil. I can't remember the science. you can also spin the eggs to center the yolk. (It is spinning if memory serves, but maybe some other trick. rolling?) Then in simmering water for 4-5 minutes. Testing some eggs under your conditions should help you determine exactly how long to cook the eggs. Then an ice bath if you're saving them.
Use a timer. I think the biggest reason it seems hard is because too many cooks assume they know how long it's been when using an accurate timer leaves no room for doubt. Then write down what each experiment results are.
Whites coagulate at a specific temp, so do yolks but as the white is on the outside, that should solidify first. I think America's Test Kitchen did some research on this.
Anyway, I just used a lot of words to say-Practice on some eggs, using a timer and thermometer. Keep notes.
PS. After many years cooking breakfast I never use the word perfect when describing egg cookery. When it comes to eggs for breakfast, beauty and perfection are definitely up to the individual.
Okay, now I remember. Pepin suggests rolling the egg along the counter to center the yolk.
There's probably a few theories. Maybe because there are so many variables and partly because of different learned techniques.
My method for a hard white and runny yolk is:
- take the eggs out of the fridge
- place in boiling water for exactly six minutes
- meanwhile prepare an ice bath
- on six minutes exactly, transfer the eggs to the ice bath and leave for two minutes
- peel and serve
The key with this method is to achieve an uneven cooking of the egg. Refrigerating the egg helps with this as does using boiling, not simmering, water quickly. The ice bath stops the cooking process dead to help protect the yolk from the latent heat.
If you have a water bath, you can use a completely different method. An "hour egg" at 62 degrees centigrade gives a soft yolk. 63 gives a creamy yolk, 64 gives a creamy but set yolk, 65 gives a plasticine yolk and 66 gives a grainy, fully cooked yolk.
Be aware of variables. Fridge temp, size of egg, recovery time of your boiling water, temp and stability of ice bath. All these will affect the final outcome. Because of the variables, you should experiment and keep an accurate record of your method until you get what you want. Worst case scenario with failed experiments is you're left with a very versatile ingredient.
This works well although I have issues with the cold egg shell splitting when it hits the boiling water no matter how gentle I place them in.
It could be because of the natural air bubble between the shell and membrane, chef. If you prick the rounded bottom with a needle to let the bubble escape, it may prevent the cracking as there's no air pressure in the egg.
As you mention, it's a bigger problem with cold eggs due to the rapid change in temp when they go in the water. So you could run the shell under warm water for a few seconds before boiling and this won't affect the coldness of the albumen too much.
We've always called that a well done soft boiled egg. Grew up on them. My father didn't quench them. He just brought the water to a rapid boil, turned the gas off, put in the eggs and covered the pan. By the time he made toast and buttered it, he removed the eggs. put them in one of those egg cups and cut the tops off with a knife. The whites were pretty sturdy and the yolks runny. Some times he cut a hole in the toast, scooped it out, and that was out version of egg-in-the-hat.
My daughter particularly likes oeufs à la coq which is pretty much what @panini described as soft boiled eggs: Cooked white with runny yolk.
Served in an egg cup, we crack the egg and peel the top shell, cut away the exposed egg white to reach the runny yolk, add spices like chili pwd, cayenne, salt and pepper then did cold toast cut in 1/2 strips. When the yolk is gone, it,s simply a matter of running a small spoon to release all the white from the shell. What remains is a empty shell.
I developed a technique to make these perfect each time:
1-remove eggs (size large) from fridge and place in large bowl. Cover eggs with hot tap water (55 - 60C or 130-140F) rest 2-5min. This will temper the eggs and release some air (which will minimize shock cracking when hitting boiling water). Controlling the initial egg temperature is crucial for precise cooking times/results.
2- Have boiling water ready, enough to cover eggs by 1 inch. Add eggs slowly with a slotted spoon. Cook for exactly 3 1/2 minutes in boiling water.
3- remove eggs then pass under cold running water enough to cool but the egg remains warm. Dry and serve still warm.
If the eggs are to runny to your liking, add 30 seconds to the cooking time.
How I developed this recipe is by tempering 12 eggs, cooking them all at the same time and started by removing the first egg at 2 minute then each other @ 30 sec intervals. Not a big sacrifice.