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.
This method works on a simple premise: If you don't boil the bejesus out of your eggs, they won't turn green, foul-smelling, and hard as nonlethal bullets. Instead, let them relax in a nice hot bath, gently firming up in even heat, and they'll be tender with bright, smooth yolks.
Put the eggs in a pot. (If you have to stack them to fit, use a bigger pot.) Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by an inch. Set over high heat.
When the water's at a full boil, turn off the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit for 9 minutes (7 if you like an almost spreadable yolk). Fill a bowl with ice water.
Transfer the eggs to the ice water to stop the cooking. ("Shocking" them like this makes them easier to peel, too.)
Credit: Photograph by Aaron Graubart
To really make hard-boiled eggs special, marinate them after cooking. Make a classic Chinese dip by adding a stick of cinnamon and some black peppercorns to 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of water, and 1 tbsp of sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. When the eggs are done cooking, peel them and set them in the dip for an hour or so. To get a marbled look (like the egg on the left), rap unpeeled eggs on the counter to put some big cracks in their shells, then drop them in the marinade for 2 hours or more before peeling.