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How to cook the perfect egg every time

How to cook the perfect egg every time

The humble egg will undoubtedly be making an appearance in the days surrounding Easter Sunday, and if you’re like most Americans you’ll be using this nutrient powerhouse to fuel your floral-and-pastel-garbed guests throughout their Easter day.

Once scrutinized for high-cholesterol, eggs are now the darlings of nutritionists. Low-cost, high-quality protein, choline (a fat-like B vitamin essential for brain function), and lutein (a carotenoid great for eye health) combine to form an ideal food for any meal.

I’m no stranger to eggs. I grew up eating them strictly scrambled, but in recent years I’ve fallen in love with over easy, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, and the velvety golden texture of poached eggs. My family in Vermont frequently bought fresh eggs from neighbors who raised their own hens, and I have fond memories perusing the rows of 4-H chickens at county fairs, dreaming of the egg-laying chickens I will raise in the future.

For the longest time however, cooking both hard-boiled and poached eggs eluded me. My boiled eggs frequently emerged either too soft or too rigid—with an unappetizing green ring around the yolk. My poached eggs (or “poachies” as my friends call them) always broke while cooking, leading to numerous failed attempts.

But after many subpar egg-based meals and shells chucked angrily into my composter, I've finally mastered the art of both poached and hard-boiled eggs. The whites are firm and smooth, my yolks are now tender and rich.

Set your Easter brunch menu up for success by following my tried-and-true tips for perfect eggs, every time.

Poached eggs

1. In a medium saucepan, heat 5 inches of water until boiling. Reduce heat to medium, so the water is simmering, without big rolling bubbles. Pour 1 teaspoon of white vinegar into the pot—this will keep the egg together while cooking.

2. Crack the egg into a mug or small bowl. Chef’s secret: You know how in a restaurant poached eggs always have that smooth, ellipse-shape? Create a whirlpool in your pot of simmering water with a whisk or spoon; this will encourage the egg into a more streamlined shape. Slide the egg into the whirlpool, taking care not to break the yolk. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Lift the egg out of the water with a slotted spoon, and dab on a paper towel.

3. Place the egg on a toasted piece of whole-wheat bread. Sprinkle with hot paprika and sea salt. Dive in.

Hard-boiled eggs

1. Place egg in a medium saucepan and cover with at least 1 inch of water. Bring water to a rolling boil. Cover. Turn off the heat—leaving the saucepan on the burner. For firm eggs, let sit for 12 minutes.

2. Submerge egg in ice water to halt the cooking process. Peel.

3. Mash the egg with mustard, cayenne, cumin seed, and sea salt. Feel free to mix in a bit of mayonnaise if desired. Spread on toasted bread, or eat on top of salad greens and sliced cherry tomatoes.

4. Or, leave the shells on and dye your hard-boiled eggs the natural way.

Try: Glob Paint Kit Natural Botanical Paints. Formulated from organic plant extracts, this adorable package comes with six nontoxic colors, compostable mixing cups, and two bamboo paintbrushes.

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