The perfect egg is a puzzle. Professional chefs, and even scientists, disagree on how to make the best eggs; home cooks simply have a tendency to overcook them. Bottom line: "It's all personal taste," says the great David Waltuck, James Beard award-winning chef-owner of élan, his highly anticipated new restaurant opening this summer in New York City. Waltuck has been making eggs all his life, even before he and his wife, Karen, brought fine dining downtown with their acclaimed restaurant Chanterelle, which closed for good in 2009. Understandably, he has deep knowledge of what works best. "Mastering the art of cooking an egg requires a little patience," Waltuck says. "It's difficult to do a lot at the same time, but with practice it becomes easier." Here, he teaches us how to make gorgeous eggs in six classic ways, and he offers one easy but fabulous recipe for shirred (baked) eggs with ham and tomato.
How to Boil Eggs
To make hard-boiled eggs, put eggs in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. Turn the heat up and let the water come to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and let them cook for 8 minutes. Turn off the flame, take the eggs out of the water, and let them cool at room temperature. Crack the shell, peel, and serve.
For soft-boiled eggs, bring the water to a boil first, then add the eggs, taking care not to crack them on the side of the pan or strands of egg white will escape. Allow them to cook for 4 minutes in simmering water. This will set the white enough to avoid appearing "snotty," as Waltuck puts it. As above, turn off the flame, take the eggs out of the water, and let them cool at room temperature. Crack the shell, peel, and serve.
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