Simple hard-boiled egg gets complicated quickly

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

When it comes to hard-boiled eggs, it seems everyone is an expert. And when you write about them, you’d better believe they are going to have their say.

After my column on an easy, never-fail way to cook easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, I heard from several dozen readers. Many wrote to say they’d tried my technique and that it had worked perfectly. A surprising number wrote in quoting my method back to me almost word-for-word.

But almost as many wrote in to tell me how they do it (sometimes I think the Internet was invented so we could tell other people “You’re doing it wrong!”).


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Essentially, my technique is this: Arrange the eggs in a pan in a single layer. Cover with tap water. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. After at least 15 minutes, plunge the eggs into an ice water bath to chill and make peeling easier.

The thing that makes this technique so great – to my mind, anyway – is that you can’t overcook the eggs. Because the water cools so quickly, after 15 minutes, it’s below the cooking temperature of the eggs.

Not everyone was convinced.

“I have read so many treatises on ‘how to cook the perfect hard-boiled egg’ that after reading your latest entry in this long-running debate, I am still left wondering why no one has suggested the method that I use, which in my opinion is the answer.

“1. Put the eggs in a pan and cover with water. 2. Bring the water to a full rolling boil and continue boiling for 7-1/2 minutes. (Watch the timer to avoid overcooking.) 3. Remove the eggs to an ice-water bath.

“I urge you to give this method a try and let me know what you think of the results. Are the whites too rubbery? (I don’t think so.) Are the yolks pale and crumbly? (I don’t think so.) Do the yolks have “the dreaded copper-green ring”? (Definitely not!)”

Others recommended steaming the eggs. “I am a hard-boiled egg expert, and I have tried almost everything over the years,” wrote one steamer, with confidence worthy of a food writer. “When I studied it scientifically, I discovered there is no consistently easy way to get easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs.

“But, in the end I did discover the ultimate foolproof easy-to-peel hard-'boiled’ egg. Just steam them. EVERY time they are easy to peel using that method.”

While he unfortunately kept the details of the process to himself, another steamer suggested exactly 22 minutes was perfect.

And there were even bakers (yes, baked “boiled” eggs; blame it on Alton Brown): “I found this recipe online and it made an amazing difference in every aspect of hard-boiled eggs. The result is a silky smooth, not rubbery egg which is easy to peel. They have no sulfur smell and do not have that infernal green ring! Try it and you will be very surprised.

“Preheat oven to 325. Using a cupcake pan place eggs in each cupcake section (or you can put the eggs directly on the oven rack). Bake for 30 minutes. Place eggs in ice bath to end the cooking.”

Several people wrote in with tweaks – some recommended covering the pan while the eggs were sitting (I tried it, didn’t seem to make a difference). Others recommended pricking a whole in the shell with a pin (not necessary if you start in cold water).

All of which just goes to show you – there’s no idea so simple someone won’t try to complicate it.


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