While many egg dishes seem simple to cook, they’re often hard to get just right. Luckily, chef instructor Bill Briwa is here to share some egg-cellent tips (sorry!) for preparing perfectly mouth-watering egg dishes every time!
Cooking eggs can teach you a lot about cooking in general. If cooking is the application of heat to food, then eggs—as a particularly delicate food—will tell you if you get it right or if you get it wrong. Chef Briwa shares some professional tips on how to get perfect eggs every time.
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Tips for Buying Eggs
When you go to the store to buy eggs, check the expiration date on the container of eggs and buy as far into the future as you can. Freshness is the most important quality to look for. Sometimes eggs are graded, but take the grading with a grain of salt. Grading is done when the eggs are packed, and a good-quality egg doesn’t mean anything unless it’s been handled properly on its way to the store.
The color of an egg is not an indication of quality; instead, it is an indication of breed.
Once you have chosen a carton of eggs, open it and make sure that none of the eggs are cracked or broken because they can start to spoil. If you notice that there are some cracked or broken eggs when you get home, it’s safest to just discard them. As soon as you get home, put the eggs directly into the refrigerator.
This is a transcript from the video series The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking. Watch it now, on The Great Courses Plus.
To hard-boil eggs, start with enough water in a pot so that the eggs are covered by at least two inches of water, and turn the heat up on the stove. While the water is still cool, lower the eggs into the water, being careful not to crack the eggs when you put them in. Then, bring the water up to a boil. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn the heat down as low as you can and start a timer. For large eggs, take them out after 12 minutes and then put them into ice water to stop the cooking.
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For an extra-large egg, you might want to wait about 14 minutes to take the eggs out of the pot; for a medium egg, you might want to wait only 10 minutes.
The Spin Test – Hard-Boiled versus Raw Eggs:
It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between hard- boiled eggs and raw eggs that are sitting in your refrigerator. If you pick up an egg and spin it on the counter, if it’s hard-boiled, it will spin really well because both the white and the
yolk are firm on the inside. However, if you try to spin a raw egg, it will not spin at all.
In terms of quality, the size doesn’t really matter, but many recipes will usually call for a large or an extra-large egg.
When you are ready to peel the eggs, do it at the sink and let the water from the faucet flow between the shell and the egg—they should separate pretty easily. Fresh eggs are sometimes difficult to peel. Try closing your eyes and feeling for pieces of shells; you may not see them because both the shell and the egg are white, but you’ll feel them.
Tools for Cooking Eggs
You should have a special pan for cooking eggs that is nonstick and is used only for eggs. You should take really good care of pans like these, including washing them by hand so that the nonstick coating stays in great shape.
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Spatulas are great for scraping cooked eggs from the hot surface of a pan. When cooking eggs, make sure that you use a spatula that is made from silicon, which is tolerant of heat and won’t melt in the pan. If you use a rubber or plastic spatula, when it touches the pan, pieces of melted rubber or plastic are sure to end up in your eggs.
Make Deviously Perfect Deviled Eggs
- hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
- Tabasco sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- tomato chopped
To make deviled eggs, cut some hard- boiled eggs in half with a sharp knife. The yolk should be set but still moist, and the white should be set but not rubbery. In contrast, an overcooked hard-boiled egg is very dry and rubbery. If you don’t like that little bit of moisture, then add an extra minute to the cooking time, and if you want your eggs to be a little bit more moist, then subtract a minute.
Start by slipping the yolks out of the whites. Make sure not to break the whites because they will be the container that holds the filling. Once you have removed all of the yolks and placed them into a bowl, mix them with some mayonnaise until the yolks have broken down. You want the mixture to have a creamy consistency; you don’t want it to be too dry.
Season the mixture with a little salt—but not pepper. Small flecks of black pepper make the yolk mixture less attractive. Instead, add some Tabasco sauce, which will give the peppery flavor that you want without the small flecks. Then, stir in some mustard to cut through the richness of this preparation. If you like a savory flavor, you can add a splash of Worcestershire sauce. If you want to, you can add other herbs, such as basil, or even some chopped up tomato. Some people add horseradish as well.
You don’t have to pipe the filling into the eggs; instead, you can take a little spoonful of the filling and spoon it into the eggs. Alternately, you can put all of the filling into a ziplock bag and cut the tip off of the bag to use it as a pastry bag and pipe in the filling. If you have a proper pastry bag and you like a fluted appearance, you can put a star tip in the pastry bag and pipe the filling. Finally, sprinkle some chives on top to add some contrasting color. Your eggs should either go right into the refrigerator or onto a plate to be served.
Make the Perfect Scrambled Eggs
- whole butter
- ground black pepper
To make scrambled eggs, start by cracking eggs into a bowl, mixing them just to break up their structure a little bit—just until you no longer see the distinct whites and yolks separate from one another.
When cooking eggs, always use a nonstick pan. However, even with a nonstick pan, you also need to use some sort of fat. For scrambled eggs, use whole butter, which burns at a relatively low temperature (around 250 degrees).
First, you want to get the butter hot and up to temperature—but no hotter than it can tolerate. When you see some sizzling in the pan, that’s the water cooking out of the butter. As soon as the water has left the pan, you can run into problems with the butter burning, so have your food ready to go in the pan at that point.
The eggs will cook quickly if your pan is preheated.
The eggs will cook quickly if your pan is preheated. Once it is preheated, use a ladle to add some eggs to it. Season the eggs with salt, pepper, and some chives. Turn the heat up a little bit to move the cooking along. To make your eggs a little bit richer, add a tablespoon of cream for each egg. That will keep your eggs soft and moist.
When you notice the eggs starting to turn to gentle, soft curds, turn the heat down and keep the eggs moving around the pan with a spatula. Your goal is not to have a dry, curdy mess, but to have gentle curds that are nice and moist. As the eggs get closer and closer to being done, pull the pan off the heat and use the residual heat that’s left in the pan to finish cooking them.