Cracked it: My fool-proof guide to cooking eggs

Healthier Scotch Eggs

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.

Turkish eggs with pita

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.


Perfectly Poached Eggs

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.


Healthier Scotch Eggs
Healthier Scotch Eggs

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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Perfectly poached eggs

Perfectly Poached Eggs
Perfectly Poached Eggs

My quest to cook the perfect egg continues with ‘poaching’  – aka, the scariest of all the egg cooking methods. But why are we so afraid? I think poaching an egg always seems like the riskiest option, especially when you only have two eggs left. No no, better play it safe and fry them instead.
But if you want to take a chance, then you have to make some tough decisions. To vinegar or not to vinegar? To swirl the water or not to swirl? Frying pan or saucepan? Refrigerated or room temperature eggs? Boil or simmer? AGHHH FORGET IT!
Poaching an egg can be a very stressful time in ones life. I don’t blame you for frying but if I told you there’s a way of poaching eggs that won’t make you run for the hills would you do it? This is where my story begins…
One blustery but warm Autumnal morning, I rise from my sleeping quarters to find my housemate Isabelle in the kitchen. It’s a small kitchen, with a blue tiled floor which feels cold on the soles of my feet. She delicately stirs a spoonful of sugar into her tea, I can’t help but notice her slender bird like hands. There’s a small frying pan simmering away with what look like two cloudy white orbs floating on the surface, like two boats on a calm sea… But they are not boats, oh no, Isabelle is making poached eggs!
“Are you poaching eggs? I say, bemused. “How are you doing that?”
“Yeah, it’s easy, I’ll show you” she says and she did, so now I will show you. Hold onto your hats, it’s going to be wild!


Perfectly poached eggs 
Serves 1 / Hands on time 10 mins / Total time 10 mins / V Gf* Df
You’ll need: Small shallow frying pan, ramekin, slotted spoon, kitchen roll (optional)
2 medium eggs, refrigerated or room temperature
Toast and smashed avocado to serve (optional)


Method
1. Boil a kettle and pour the boiled water into a small shallow saucepan, leaving 1cm from the top. Bring to the boil, before reducing the water to a low simmer.
2. Crack one of the eggs into a small ramekin and gently pour it into the water – don’t panic if the white spreads out bit, this is normal. Repeat with the second. If the eggs look like they’re merging together this is also nothing to worry about.
3. The eggs won’t take long to cook once in the water to keep a close eye on them. Now is a good time to toast the bread.


NOTE: If the egg yolks are poking out the water, use a slotted spoon to gently push them under the water until the tops of the yolks look set (see image below).


4. After about 2 mins, move a slotted spoon gently underneath each egg to make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom. This is also a good opportunity to lift one of the eggs out and inspect the whites. If they’re set then check the yolks – if you like your yolks a little harder return to the water to cook for longer.
5. Once cooked, remove one egg at a time with the slotted spoon, allowing any excess water to drain through the spoon back into the frying pan. Serve immediately on toast.

 

 

Perfect Poached Eggs
Perfect Poached Eggs

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


– Vegetarian.   *Gf – Use gluten free bread.    Df – Dairy free