Fresh free range eggs
Eggs....they are cheap, readily available and delicious. They are also exceptionally nutritional. One large hen egg has approximately 70 calories and 6 grams of protein. The white, almost exclusively protein, is the lowest calorie part of the egg. The yolk, often regarded as the forbidden part of the egg, is high in fat. But it also contains some pretty important nutrients like iron, vitamins A and D, protein (yes, there is protein here too!), and choline, an essential (meaning your body doesn't make it on its own) nutrient that helps with memory, muscle movement and the construction of cell walls. So don't discard those yolks. They are like liquid gold for the body! Unless you are watching your cholesterol. Then you should limit your consumption.
Hard boiled eggs make a great snack. They are quick to eat, pair well with fruits and vegetables, and are portable. They also make the quintessential BBQ and tailgating accouterment called the deviled egg. You can make a batch at the beginning of the week and eat them all week long! There is a right way to do it though, so don't just think you can throw some hot water on a raw egg and it's going to come out perfectly cooked! You know that icky grey ring around the yolk? That didn't just happen. It means you cooked your eggs too long. Without going all science nerd on you, some compounds combined with other compounds during the cooking process and produced hydrogen sulfide gas. It's mostly harmless, but it looks bad. So if you want your hard boiled eggs to be photograph ready, or you have picky kids that won't eat anything that looks like it should be on the Incredible Hulk's restaurant menu, follow these steps and you will have perfectly hard boiled eggs every time. There is more than one way to do it, but this is how I was taught and it has yet to fail me!
Why do some eggs take forever to peel and take half of the egg white with it? Well, simply put, those were fresh eggs. The older the eggs, the easier they will peel. The air cell (the air space between the egg white and the shell in it's raw state) gets bigger the older the egg gets. When the egg white shrinks, it creates more space between the shell and the protein molecules. When the white is cooked and the proteins coagulate, the air space expands and voila......easy-to-peel eggs. Use older eggs for hard boiling. Save the fresh ones for omelets and meringues.
1. Prepare your eggs. Set them out on the counter for a few minutes while you prepare all of your supplies. This will take the edge off the chill and prevent the shells from splitting in the boiling water. Put a 2 quart pot filled about half-way with water on the stove top and bring to a boil. If you are cooking more than about 6 eggs, use a bigger pot. If you need less space, use a smaller one.
2. When the water is boiling, vigorously, not splashing all over the stove top, carefully add the eggs to the water using a slotted spoon. Set your timer for 11 minutes. If the shells split, no worries. They whites may leak out and create a foam on the surface of the water. But they will still be edible. Skim the foam off the surface from time to time. If the water starts to boil super rapidly and splashes water all over the place, turn the heat down a smidge. You want the water to stay in the pot so it can cook the eggs. But don't turn it down too much. You want hard cooked egg yolks, not poached eggs in shell.
3. Prepare your ice bath. Use a bowl big enough to fit lots of ice and
the eggs. Use several scoops of ice and top with cold water. The ice cubes should not melt. Otherwise you will have just cold water, not iced water. This is important, so take the time to do it right.
4. When your time goes off, you will probably be in another room doing something else. So hurry back to the kitchen. You only have about 30 seconds to get the eggs out of the boiling water and into the ice bath before the hydrogen sulfide gas reacts with iron in the yolk to produce that icky grey ring. Using a slotted spoon again, carefully remove the eggs from the water and put into the ice bath. Let the eggs cool completely, about 5 minutes or so. Drain the water, and store the eggs in the refrigerator for about a week. I like to keep mine in an open plastic container or bowl lined with a folded paper towel.
5. When you are ready to eat, gently tap the shell on a hard surface, such as the counter top, and peel under running water. If the eggs were fresh, this could be a tricky process. If they were older, they should peel in one piece, maybe two.
If you are watching your calories or cholesterol, remove the yolk and only eat the whites. You will save yourself about 50 calories. Slice, dice, mash or leave whole. They are so versatile I may have to write an entire article of all of the uses for a hard boiled egg!
Rebecca Nedrow is an ACF Certified Culinarian with a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from Kansas State University. She is also the Director of Operations for Friend that Cooks Personal Chefs.
Friend that Cooks personal chefs in Wichita, Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis offer weekly meal prep for families with busy schedules, food allergies or special diets. Learn more at http://www.friendthatcooks.com.
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