Thank You, Anthony Bourdain, aka How Not to Humpty-Dumpty a Hard-Boiled Egg

17 Dec

There are simple kitchen skills at which we all assume we’re adept. Boiling water, brewing coffee, steeping tea, making toast, hard-boiling an egg…

Ah, but hold on a second – that last one. You think you know how to do this, don’t you. Of course you do. What’s easier than boiling an egg? I thought I knew. Of course I did! You boil water, you pop in an egg, you let it boil on for, uh, you know, a bunch of minutes, and then you take it out and, voila! You can’t peel the damned shell from the white because you’ve over-cooked the damn thing. And yet the last time you fancied a little egg salad, your happy little shell-wrapped orbs turned out just fine. Why, for the love of Egbert, why?

I’ll tell you why. Because hard-boiling an egg actually requires that you follow a few simple, fail-safe parameters. I learned this bit of genius from a book Anthony Bourdain put out a few years ago. In The Les Halles Cookbook, under the charming sub-title of “How to Hard Boil a Freakin’ Egg,” I was schooled on a vital bit of kitchen wisdom that allowed me to hard boil 30 freakin’ eggs for a party last weekend and not mess up a single one. Here’s whatcha gotta do:

1. Fill a pot with cold water.

2. Place egg(s) gently into the water-filled pot and cover.

3. Turn the burner onto high to boil.

4. DO NOT GO FAR! This is important — you need to pay attention or you’ll screw this up. Seriously. But to pass the time, fill a bowl with ice and water and set it in the sink.

5. The second the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and set a timer for 10 minutes.

6. When the time’s up, strain the eggs and set them in the ice water.

That’s it. When they’re done, peel ’em. Make a sandwich, a nicoise salad, devil ’em, make a meatloaf and put one in the middle a la Lola (e.g., my mother-in-law’s trick), or salt one up and eat it as it is. All of which will be possible because those shells will come off lickety, peely split.

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