I have two posts today prompted by a lovely former colleague. She had mentioned in her status on Facebook (“the world’s smallest blog posts” as she aptly put it) that she had to google “how to boil an egg”. I wrote back, telling her I did too. I also had to look up how to boil potatoes, which is relevant for the next post.
The best instructions, even though they include a precious extra step, are from Mark Bittman, in _How to Cook Everything_. Home cooks can do well by picking up a volume for their kitchen. Mine is warped with steam, spilled liquids, and smudges of who knows what.
Boiling an egg – even a hard-boiled egg – should take no more than 15 minutes from the time you lower the egg into gently boiling water.
from _How to Cook Everything_
There are two keys to successfully boiling an egg. The first is to poke a tiny hole in the broad end of the egg, using a pin or needle. This provides an outlet for the pressure created by the swelling and hardening eggwhite and virtually eliminates cracked shells. The second is to use medium-low heat, which keeps the egg from bouncing around in the saucepan and helps prevent overcooking. All that’s left is timing.
In each case, be sure not to crowd the saucepan, so each egg has plenty of water around it. Increase the cooking time to the longer end of the range if you’re cookng more than one egg at a time. And finally, use a skimmer, ladle, or slotted spoon to slowly lower each egg into gently (not volcanic) boiling water.
For soft boiled: 3-4 minutes of cooking time
For medium boiled: 5-6 minutes of cooking time
For hard boiled: 10-15 minutes (anything over 12 gives a superfirm yolk)
When time is done, rinse under cold running water (very briefly for softboiled, 30 secs for others), crack the shell and scoop out the egg.