Boiled, fried, poached… Well that’s kind of it, but however you like to eat yours, eggs are rich in protein, nutrients and if cooked correctly, can be darn tootin’ tasty. But alas, over-cooked, chalky yolks and runny whites are destroying breakfasts across the land, so perhaps it’s time to go back to basics this Easter.
Before we get onto cooking, let’s discuss storage and freshness. It may surprise you to know that older eggs can sometimes be the superior choice, depending on how you are planning to cook with them. If hard-boiling, slightly older eggs are easier to peel – if you’ve ever tried to peel a fresh egg, I feel your pain. The white comes away with the shell and you’re left with a knobbly pot-holed mess. However, older eggs cook with a more robust white, making them considerably easier to peel, so save fresh eggs for poaching, frying and scrambling.
To refrigerate or to not refrigerate. This has been long debated but generally, comes down to the climate you live in. As a general rule, it’s best to keep eggs in the fridge, as constant changes in temperature can cause the eggs to spoil. If in doubt, refrigerate. However, room temperature eggs can be better for cooking with, so it’s best to remove the eggs from the fridge and allow them to come up to temperature before cooking.
Frying: Frying eggs can be a daunting task to many due to copious amounts of hot oil used for basting. However, this technique is out-dated and unnecessary – but you will need a non-stick frying pan with a lid. Add a tsp of cooking oil or butter to a non-stick saucepan and place over a medium heat. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a ramekin – cracking the egg directly into the pan gives you less control and can occasionally break the yolk. Once hot, move the oil around the pan before sliding in the egg. Allow to cook for about a minute, or until the white has started to set, before covering with a lid. Fry the egg for around 2-3 minutes, checking regularly as to not over-cook the yolk.
Poaching: Poaching is possibly the most feared of all the egg cooking methods, due to the confusion around vinegar and swirling water vortexes. It’s true that a drop of vinegar helps coagulate the egg but it’s only really necessary if your eggs aren’t all that fresh. Personally, I don’t bother with vinegar or swirling the water around – it’s Sunday morning and I want my poached eggs with as little faff as possible. l simply fill a small frying pan nearly to the brim with boiling water and bring to a simmer. Crack the egg into a small ramekin before lowering carefully into the water and tipping out. Simmer gently for two to three minutes for a soft, runny yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.
Soft and hard boiling: My childhood favourite. From slicing off the cap to dunking in hot buttered soldiers, a soft-boiled egg evokes happy memories and joy. How long you boil the eggs for depends on how old they are – older eggs tend to need less time, so boil for 5 mins. Fresh eggs need longer, so keep them in the water for 6.5 mins. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Gently lower in two eggs and set a timer between 5–6.5 mins – depending on how old your eggs are. For hard boiled eggs, it’s best to use older eggs to ensure an easier peel. Simmer in boiling water for 8 mins before transferring to an icy water bath. Leave to cool fully before peeling.
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