Perfecting Boiled Eggs

23 Mar

I never used to have many boiled eggs and when I did I used to just chuck my egg in boiling water for 3 minutes and be done with it but then I watched Heston Blumenthal’s How to Cook Like Heston programme on eggs and decided to check out his technique. It didn’t involve a blow torch and I didn’t have to cook it in 5 different ways.  Basically, you just cover the egg with cold water and bring to the boil. Once the water starts to boil you take it off the heat and leave in the water for six minutes. That, my friends, is it. Simple.

So I embarked on my own search for the perfect boiled egg. I thought I’d try out his technique and all would be well first time. Not so. For my first effort, I forgot the egg was in the pan and left it boiling for too long. This resulted in exactly the kind of rubbery egg I wanted to avoid. For my second attempt, I took it off the heat at exactly the right time and then forgot about it until about 10 minutes had passed. This resulted in a hard yolk. I tried again. This time I got the timings exactly right and it wasn’t rubbery but the yolk was still too hard. I tried again and this next time the white wasn’t quite ready. Why? I’d got the timings right, hadn’t I? Perhaps I was being stupid, so I got someone’s help to make sure I was doing the right thing. I was but the result still wasn’t quite right.

I was confused. ‘Heston is a fool! Damn that man!’ I muttered over and over again. At night I dreamed of eggs boiling and boiling and boiling and even asked my friends how they boiled their eggs.  They weren’t quite sure if I was referring to the hen variety or it was some kind of bizarre euphanism. Suddenly, just as I was about to break out in a nasty little rash, it dawned on me. The eggs that I get are a mixed box, of different sizes.  It was time to go back to the kitchen. Renewed, I experimented with reducing the standing times for the  small eggs and increasing them for the bigger eggs.

Yesterday morning, I (ahem) cracked it. The perfect boiled egg. Thirty seconds more was all it took for my bigger egg to have a soft, creamy but properly cooked white and a full on runny yellow yolk. It was lovely and I was finally able to enjoy one of life’s not-so-simple little pleasures. Today too, the small egg rested for five minutes and came out perfectly. Not one, but two happy mornings.

The question remains though, a month ago I didn’t have a proper concept of the perfect boiled egg, so is my life ruined now that I’ve to maintain this gold standard of high-class cooking every other morning and will an egg ever be the same again?


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