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.
There is no foolproof method for perfect, teardrop-shape poached eggs every time. But life is all about playing the numbers, and here's how to stack them in your favor.
Crack each egg into its own teacup, ramekin, or small bowl.
Fill a heavy, wide pot with water – 2 quarts for every 4 eggs. Bring to a full boil, salt the water generously, and ignore everything you've heard about adding vinegar. The theory is that the acid helps bind the proteins, keeping the whites together. But all it seems to do is make your eggs a little sour.
Turn the heat to low. Dip each cup into the water, and slide the egg out. Keep the eggs from sitting on top of one another. (Gently nudge them with a spoon if you need to.) Turn off the heat and cover. Use a slotted spoon to take out the eggs 3 minutes later for warm, runny yolks.
Credit: Photograph by Aaron Graubart
Poached eggs for breakfast is great, but what makes them really awesome is how they double as a rich pouch of sauce. Break one over a seared steak to release an oozing slick of golden yolk. Add one to a salad along with crisp bacon. Or drop one onto a dish of pasta with butter, cheese, and sautéed greens for a serious meal.