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When we cook, there are ingredients and processes that tend to fade into the background. A carrot becomes Just a carrot and we cease to assess the quality of the carrot. Especially when it’s destined to be an extra in a dish that belongs to some other star ingredient. We stop valuing said ingredient and look for the cheapest one on the shelf. I’m here to say the quality of that carrot is just as important as the star. We’ll think of it as a supporting ingredient and springing for a better carrot can make a big difference in the finished product.
Just the same, a cooking process can become habitual to the point that we don’t even think about it. We stop thinking of ways we could do it better, and it becomes mechanical to a fault. Toasting a piece of toast, peeling a carrot, sautéing an onion, boiling an egg . . . . . we all know how to boil an egg right? . . . right?
Well, I asked around and not many people know how to properly boil an egg. While the methods are subjective, there are a few tweaks that can make a big difference.
The basics of hard boiling:
Buy great eggs!!! This recipe has one ingredient, so it has to be outstanding. Try hitting a local farmers market for some eggs; the difference will astound you.
Lay the eggs in a pot. Whatever the pot size is put in enough eggs to fill the pot in one layer. The less room they have to roll around and bump the less they will crack.
Cover the eggs with cold water by just a half an inch. If the water is too deep the eggs will float around and break.
Bring them to a boil over medium high heat.
Stir very gently as the water comes up. This ensure the yolks will be in the middle, imperative for deviled eggs and neurotic cooks like me.
Kill the heat and cover the pot. Set your timer for 12 minutes. Stir one more time about 3-4minutes into this step. . . just for good measure.
Cool them down. After your timer chimes, get those eggs into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. You don't want for them to overcook, that's when that greenish gray color forms on the outside of the yolk and a slightly stinky sulfer smell comes on.
Peel them by gently whacking them on a flat surface to start it out. Set the egg down where the shell is cracked and gently roll it around under the palm of your hand, cracking up the entire shell. Remove the shell under gentle running water. This both cleans shell bits off the egg and the water can help separate the shell membrane from the egg itself.
“Bacon and Eggs” Salad Serves four
The hard boiled egg is pretty standard, but one of my favorite ways to boil an egg is to a semi-soft consistency. This is when the inner yolk is still runny, but the outer yolk has just begun to set. It's great in salads, as a garnish to a Japanese soup or just noshed on with salt, pepper and olive oil. To make them, you very gently lower an (extra large) egg into rolling boiling water. After 7 and half minutes remove and cool it immediately in ice water or under cold running water. And there you have it, a semi-soft egg.
For a brief dissertation on how to scramble an egg, go here.
½ lb. Bacon, cut into ¼ inch strips
4 Semi-soft boiled eggs, cut in half
1 lb. Frisee lettuce, cleaned and roughly chopped (any lettuce would work for this)
For the Dressing:
2 tbsp Bacon drippings (still warm)
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp Dijon Mustard
Juice of one lemon
Small Shallot, minced
1. Over medium heat, render the bacon until it is nice and crispy, reserve the drippings.
2. To make the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree well.
3. Toss the lettuce in the dressing and garnish with the bacon bits and semi-soft eggs.
This is a great simple salad, and while it might seem like breakfast overkill, I eat mine with a piece of wheat toast slathered with a little too much butter and some habanero grape jam. It’s an amazing little appetizer.