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Recipe: How To Make Eggs

Recipe: How To Make Eggs

There’s a reason “put an egg on it” has become a modern culinary mantra. More than any other ingredient, eggs travel smoothly from breakfast to lunch to dinner. They can turn a dish into a meal (perched on seasonal greens, grain dishes or pasta) or they can be the meal themselves (omelets, frittatas and more). At their simplest, eggs are creamy little packages of luxury requiring nothing more than salt to shine. At the end of a busy day, take 5 minutes to poach or fry one, put it on top of a salad or yesterday’s roasted vegetables or rice pilaf, and sit down to dinner.

Boiled

1. BASIC METHOD: SOFT-BOILED

Place the eggs in a single layer in a heavy saucepan and cover with lukewarm water by at least one inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Leaving the pot uncovered, turn the heat to high, and bring the water just to a gentle boil. Immediately turn off the heat, cover the pan and let stand for 2 minutes. Transfer the pot to the sink and run cold water over the eggs for about 30 seconds.

2. BASIC METHOD: HARD-BOILED

Place eggs in a single layer in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water by at least 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat to high. As soon as the water comes to a gentle boil, turn off the heat and cover the pan. For creamy yolks, remove the lid after 10 minutes and run cold water over eggs for 1 minute. Set aside to cool at room temperature. For firmer yolks, leave the eggs to cool in the cooking water, uncovered, for up to 2 hours.

TIPS

• A gray-green ring around the yolk of a hard boiled egg means that it was cooked too long and/or at too high a temperature. To protect against this, cooked eggs should be immediately immersed in cold water to stop the cooking process.

• Salting the water helps minimize leaks if the eggs crack in the pan; the egg whites coagulate and seal off the crack more quickly.

• To peel, gently tap a boiled egg against the counter, turning and tapping to make a crackle pattern. Start peeling at the broad end, where there is an air pocket. Running the egg under cold water is not necessary, unless they are too hot to handle.

• In recipes like mayonnaise and Caesar salad that call for raw egg yolks, the soft yolk of a poached or soft-boiled egg can be used instead.

• To test if an egg has been cooked, spin it on a counter. A hard boiled egg spins faster than a raw egg.


Poached

1. BASIC METHOD: STOVETOP

In a pot or deep skillet, combine about 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. You can poach one to four eggs at a time in this liquid; work in batches for more. Eggs can be at room temperature or refrigerator-cold; cold eggs will require a slightly longer cooking time.

Bring water to a bare simmer (the French call it a “smile”), with bubbles forming on the bottom of the pan and only slight activity on the top. The water will be under 190 degrees; you should be able to quickly dip your fingertip in and out without pain.

If you are a confident cook, crack each egg on the side of the pan and let the contents slide very gently into the water. If you need to worry about broken yolks or bits of shell, break each egg into a separate ramekin before you begin to cook. Hold the ramekin just above the water and turn it over quickly but gently, to keep the whites and yolks close together.

Let cook until just firm, 4 to 5 minutes. The yolks will be soft and plump and the whites will be set but not tough. Use a slotted spoon to lift eggs out one at a time. Let drain on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Use the edge of the spoon or a small knife to trim off any ragged edges.

2. BASIC METHOD: MICROWAVE

Crack an egg into a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Gently pour in warm water until it covers the egg by about a half-inch. Place in the microwave and cook (on low heat, if available) for 20 to 30 seconds. Check to see if the translucent egg whites have begun to turn cloudy and opaque. Keep cooking in 10- to 15-second bursts until the white looks set. The yolk will be encased inside the white. Over the sink, pour the contents of the cup through a slotted spoon and shake well; this will drain off the cooking water and any uncooked egg whites. In the spoon: one perfect poached egg.

TIPS

• The fresher your eggs are, the better they will hold their shape in the water.

• For better odds of picture-perfect eggs, break each one into a sieve or perforated spoon and let the thin, runny part of the white drain off before sliding just the yolk and gelatinous white into the water.

• You can poach eggs up to a day ahead. Hold them in a container of ice water in the refrigerator, then gently reheat for 2 minutes in barely simmering or hot tap water.

• In addition to water, eggs can be poached in barely simmering stock, cream, wine, olive oil or tomato sauce. Do not poach ahead.

• In recipes like mayonnaise and Caesar salad that call for raw egg yolks, the soft yolk of a poached or soft-boiled egg can be used instead.


Scrambled

1. BASIC METHOD: HARD-SCRAMBLED (A.K.A. HOT AND FAST)

For 2 or 3 servings: Crack 6 eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk or a fork. Add 2 pinches salt and beat in 1 tablespoon milk or cream (this is optional; the dairy makes the finished eggs more moist). Over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a thick, heavy saucepan or skillet with high sides.

When the butter foams, add the egg mixture and cook over medium to high heat, stirring continuously and vigorously with a whisk (use a silicone whisk if the pan is nonstick) just until the mixture is firming up into large curds.

While the eggs are still quite soft and shiny, remove the mixture from the heat. (The eggs will continue to cook in the residual heat of the pan.) Serve immediately.

2. BASIC METHOD: SOFT-SCRAMBLED (A.K.A. LOW AND SLOW)

For 2 or 3 servings: Crack 6 eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk or a fork. Add 2 pinches salt and beat in 1 tablespoon milk or cream (this is optional; the dairy makes the finished eggs more moist). Heat a deep 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons butter and swirl it in the pan. After the butter melts, but before it foams, turn the heat to very low.

Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. At first nothing will happen; after a few minutes, the eggs will begin to form curds. Now stir continuously, breaking up the curds as they form, until the mixture is a mass of tiny curds — depending on the heat level, this can take as long as 20 minutes.

While the eggs are still quite soft and shiny, remove the mixture from the heat. (The eggs will continue to cook in the residual heat of the pan.) Serve immediately.

TIPS

• It is worth investing in a heavy, good-quality nonstick pan to make great scrambled eggs.

• Adding salt to the eggs before cooking produces a more tender scramble.

• Adding a little milk or cream to scrambled eggs helps keep them moist (but too much will make them runny).


Fried

1. BASIC METHOD: SUNNY SIDE UP

For 2 fried eggs with bright yellow yolks and no brown edges, bring the eggs to room temperature. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet over the lowest possible heat.

When the butter is just melted but not yet bubbling or foaming, crack 1 egg into each side of the pan. The whites will spread out and stay clear for a few seconds before turning white. (If the whites turn opaque immediately, the pan is too hot. Reduce the heat or use a flame tamer.)

Use a silicone spatula to gently push the whites apart so that each egg remains separate. Let cook slowly; use the spatula to make a few slits through the white, to let the still-liquid parts spill into the bottom of the pan. When the whites are almost completely cooked (this can take as long as 3 to 4 minutes), baste the eggs with the melted butter in the pan.

To test if the yolk is done, touch it with your finger; it should feel warm or hot, not lukewarm. The last part to cook is the gelatinous ring of white around the yolk; be sure not to remove the egg from the heat until that part is cooked through.

2. BASIC METHOD: OVER EASY

Fry an egg as above, increasing the heat slightly. When the bottom of a fried egg is cooked but the yolk still undercooked, use your spatula to gently lift and fold the whites over the yolk from both sides.

Carefully turn the folded egg over (without breaking the yolk) and let cook for 10 to 30 seconds more. (If you don’t mind how it looks, just flip the whole egg over and don’t bother with the folding.)

TIPS

• The fresher the your eggs are, the better they will hold their shape in the pan.

• To get the whites and yolks fully cooked at the same time, start with warm or room temperature eggs. Refrigerated eggs will warm up to the right temperature in a 10-minute hot water bath.

• If you are aiming for sunny-side-up eggs but the whites are done before the yolks, add a teaspoon or so of water to the skillet and cover it so that the yolk cooks in the steam. Lift the lid every 15 seconds or so to check on the yolk: it may acquire a white film. Or, give the egg a quick flip and finish the cooking over easy. The egg will not look as cheerful, but it’s better than wasting an egg by overcooking.

• Eggs can be fried sunny side up in a half-inch of hot oil instead of in butter; the edges will turn brown and crisp.


Omelet

1. BASIC METHOD

Crack 3 eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk or a fork. Add milk, 2 good pinches of salt and one of pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons neutral oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over high heat.

When the oil and butter are hot, swirl them together, add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low (or very low if you like your omelets completely yellow, with no browning). Swirl the pan to distribute the eggs evenly over the surface.

Use a silicone spatula to drag the cooked edges into the center: picture a clock face and drag in from 12, 3, 6 and 9, letting the uncooked egg run out to the edges of the pan. Shake the pan to loosen the bottom and let any remaining uncooked egg run underneath (if necessary, use the spatula to lift the edges up).

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons goat cheese across the center. Let cook just until the top is almost set but still moist. Fold the bottom third of the omelet up over the center, and then fold the top third down. Invert onto a plate, sprinkle with finely chopped chives, and serve.

TIPS

• Here again, a good nonstick pan is the egg cook’s best friend. A pan made of a material lighter than cast iron is preferable for omelets: it will be easier to maneuver and more responsive to changes in the heat.

• Start with room-temperature eggs, so that the omelet cooks as quickly as possible and remains tender.

• Have all your fillings close by and at room temperature before you begin cooking.

• Instead of or in addition to cheese, you may fill an omelet with sautéed or roasted vegetables, butter-softened shallots or leeks, steamed greens, bits of bacon or ham, minced herbs or citrus zest, or salsa or another condiment.

• For a traditional dessert, try filling an omelet with jam and sprinkling the top with powdered sugar, like a crepe.

Source: NYTfood

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