Any chef or personal trainer will tell you that eggs are a perfect food. So why do they so often seem far from it? Clumpy, rubbery, even stinky – there's a long, sadly familiar list of ways they can go wrong. But the truth is, anyone can make ordinary eggs transcendent.
Imagine scrambled eggs so dense and smooth that people will wonder how much cheese and cream you added, even though the answer is none. Hard-boiled eggs that always come out tender, with bright, almost spreadable yolks. Poached eggs so delicate and runny, they're like sauce bombs you can drop on anything from salad to pasta to a rare, juicy steak.
One of the great lessons of food is that nothing is so simple it can't be made spectacular. Luckily, with eggs, the difference is just a matter of technique – and you can improve yours easily. Try these tricks, and from now on, you'll wow yourself every time you crack some shells.
All techniques are timed for large eggs, the most common size. Medium eggs will take less time, extra-large eggs slightly longer.
Fresh Eggs: How to Check
An egg's freshness makes a huge difference in its flavor and how it cooks. A really fresh egg will be cloudy with two distinct whites – one thick, one thin – and a yolk that sits up high on the thick white. As an egg ages, it loses flavor and turns clearer, and its whites get thinner. A fresh egg is great for poaching: It doesn't want to feather away in the water, and the thick white surrounds the yolk. But you don't want to hard-boil a new egg: The white sticks to the shell so much you'll hate peeling it. To check freshness without cracking an egg, put it in a glass of water. If it's fresh, it'll lie happily on its side. The more it wants to "stand up," the older it is. (If it floats, the only thing to do with it is throw it at an annoying neighbor's house.)
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