For as long as I can remember we had an electric egg cooker. It was an old metal thing by Oster and it could cook up to four eggs at once. There was even a poaching insert – which we never used and eventually tossed. You would put in a predetermined amount of water for whatever kind of eggs you wanted (soft boiled, hard boiled, etc.), prick the bottom of each egg with a sharp pin sitting in the middle of the machine, nestle the eggs in the holder, put the lid on, and flip the switch. When it was done it would automatically shut off and then you’d very carefully lift the lid (it was alarmingly hot) and transfer the eggs to an ice bath. I think the electrical components eventually shorted out and sadly it is no longer with us, but it surely made an impact on me.
Soft boiled eggs seem particularly civilized to me. The idea of sitting down to one or two little eggs, perched neatly in individual egg cups is just adorable. But for as cute as they can be, they’re also just pretty damn practical. On a salad, over pasta, or smashed on toast, a runny, oozy, nearly custardy egg is always welcome. Plus they’re cheap – also easy.
Clearly I loved the old, Oster egg cooker of my youth. But a peculiar thing, that I never really gave much thought to was the pin pricking part. I think this was to keep the eggs from exploding. But over the years I’ve found another reason to stab your eggs. It makes them way easier to peel. I think the little hole allows the steam to get in between the egg and its shell (just guessing here), which allows the peel to slip off in a few easy pieces, rather than in tiny, rage-inducing shards. So thank you egg cooker, you have saved me many mornings of frustration and I only wish you were still around to pass down to future generations – although you got dangerously hot, so on second thought, maybe not.
Seven Minute Eggs
Servings: 1-6 Time: 10 MINUTES Source: ADAPTED FROM COOKS ILLUSTRATED
These eggs aren’t really boiled, so much as steamed. I’ve adapted this method from one by Cook’s Illustrated, which cooks the eggs very evenly without having to boil an entire pot of water. The pin pricking part is my spin however, and I think makes the eggs nearly foolproof when it comes to peeling. Seven minutes exactly will give you a just-firm white with an oozy yolk. All the pictures here are of a seven minute egg. However, sometimes I’m in the mood for something a bit drippier, in which case I pull the egg at six minutes and thirty seconds.
1 to 6 eggs
Salt and pepper
Pierce the fatter end of each eggshell with a thumbtack, pushpin, etc. until it clears the shell. I promise it will not start leaking. Set aside.
In a saucepan bring about an inch of water to simmer over medium heat. Once the water is at a simmer, place the eggs gently in the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Set a timer for exactly 7 minutes.
When 7 minutes is up, transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with ice water. Let sit for a minute.
To serve, either tap the top off with a dinner knife and place it in your prettiest egg cup, or crack the egg gently all over, on a hard surface (like your kitchen counter), then carefully peel and rinse off any tiny pieces of shell and use in whatever way is most delicious. Either way, season with salt and pepper.