When you work in professional kitchens, you often get asked to do a practical cooking test as your job interview. You get a few ingredients and you turn it into something delicious in order to show your skill and creativity. One chef I worked with used to get potential new cooks to do an ‘egg test’. At first this may sound simple, but the new cooks had to cook eggs six ways – perfectly. Poached, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, omelette, scrambled, over-easy, frittata or baked – whichever way they were cooked they had to be just right. Needless to say, not all cooks passed the test – so don’t get down on yourself when your poached eggs don’t go as planned. Below, I’ve set out a few tips for making great eggs at home, no matter which type you decide to make.
- The best eggs to use for hard-boiling are the ones that have been sitting in your fridge for a few weeks. The older the eggs, the better they are for hard-boiling and are much easier to peel. So, save your fresh eggs for poaching.
- Grey eggs: why do some hard-boiled eggs come out with that awful grey ring around the yolk? This is often a result of over-cooked hard-boiled eggs and not cooling the eggs properly after they’ve been cooked. Be sure to plunk your freshly boiled eggs into a big bowl of ice water or run them under cold water until they are completely cold before peeling.
- There are lots of gizmos and gadgets on the market to help you make that perfectly poached egg. But, all you need is a pot, some salted water and a slotted spoon to get them right every time.
- Use fresh eggs, the fresher the egg, the more likely you will have a perfectly shaped and intact egg white and runny yolk. Buy your eggs from the farmers market or make sure to check the packed-on date on the side of your egg carton.
- Eggs should be gently poured into water that is barely simmering. I’m talking a few bubbles and nowhere close to boiling. Eggs need to be very gently cooked. Once the eggs are gently cracked into the barely simmering water, I find they only need a few minutes. About to 2-4 for very soft to much firmer. Use a slotted spoon to pull the egg out, give the yolk a little push with your finger to see how set it is. If the white is still a bit too runny, gently place back into the barely simmering water.
- Fresh eggs work best for fried eggs as they will hold their shape well in the pan. Using a non-stick pan here is excellent for frying up perfectly crispy eggs with a soft yolk center.
- Use a good amount of butter to fry your egg and wait to season the egg with salt and pepper until after it is cooked. If you want the whites to set a bit faster, cover with a lid while frying. Or, flip them over for over-easy eggs.
Omelettes & Scrambled Eggs:
- My biggest tip for making the perfect omelettes and scrambled eggs comes down to the pan. I used to work with cooks who would lock non-stick omelette pans in their locker in order to hide them from colleagues who might accidentally scratch them. You’ll have success with perfect omelettes and scrambled eggs if you invest in a non-stick pan and avoid using any sharp utensils on the surface.