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June 28, 2007 / Tony

Perfect hard-cooked eggs

One of the surprisingly difficult things for a home cook to master is how to perfectly hard cook eggs.  So many times in my life have I seen either slightly underdone eggs or eggs that were so far past done that they were almost inedible.  Let me describe a perfect hard-cooked egg:  The albumen (white part) should be fully set but tender with a slightly firm bite.  The yolk should be fully set as well but only just so.  There should be no green on any part of the yolk and it should not be chalky at all.  The yolk, when cut, should cut cleanly and stay together but show a little distress on the cut surface.  The overall taste of the egg should be one of firm creaminess. 

So, how to best achieve this goal?  Boiling and all other water methods of cooking eggs, I think, are far too violent to create a perfectly hard-cooked egg.  I say violent because of the rapid heat transfer between water and anything it comes into contact with.  (You can easily put your hand in a 200 degree oven but you cannot put your hand in a pot of 200 degree water for any amount of time.)  The eggs cook so darn fast in hot water that it is difficult to find that perfect time to pull them out.  The window of perfectly cooked eggs is small since the cooking process is happening so quickly. 

What I do instead (thanks to Alton Brown) is to forget using water altogether.  Instead, use your oven and the gentle cooking medium of air.  Here’s what I do:  Put the oven racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Place the eggs directly on the rack an bake for 30 minutes.  After cooking, place in ice water until cool.  This method is easy, clean and foolproof.  And the eggs are wonderful.  Everything I said about perfect hard-cooked eggs above apply to these eggs.  Try it out, you won’t be disappointed. 

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