Always in search for ways to up our cooking game, we tapped the expertise of Alice Waters to score tips for whipping up the perfect egg. (For us it’s all about the basics.) Whether you prefer your eggs boiled, fried, or scrambled, her techniques will make this simplest of ingredients the unlikely star of your recipe repertoire.
1. To cook eggs in the shell, soft-boiled or hard-boiled, fill a pot with water deep enough to cover eggs by an inch or two, and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and lower the eggs into the pot with a slotted spoon. For soft-boiled eggs with a runny yolk, simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. (If the eggs are very large or very small, adjust the timing by a minute more or a minute less.)
3. Remove the eggs, cool briefly in cold water, and serve in the shell with the top cut off, or crack them open and scoop the contents into a warm bowl. For hard-cooked eggs, with yolks just set but still moist at the center, simmer the eggs for 9 minutes. (For eggs with firmer yolks, simmer another minute or two.)
4. Remove and cool in cold water, then crack them all over and peel off the shells.
1. A heavy pan, such as a cast-iron skillet, is good for frying eggs. The heat is very even, and if the pan is well seasoned, the eggs won’t stick. (Fried eggs tend to stick to stainless-steel pans.)
2. Warm the pan over medium heat for a minute or two, add a thick layer of olive oil (eggs are delicious cooked in olive oil) or a nut of butter, and crack open the eggs into the pan.
3. Lower the heat, season the eggs with salt and pepper and, if you like, a generous amount of chopped herbs—parsley, sage, chives, chervil, marjoram, basil.
4. Cook gently until the eggs are set on the bottom and a little lacy around the edges, then cover the pan and cook until the whites are just set and the yolks are soft and runny; if you like the yolk firmer, cook it a little longer. Serve immediately.
1. Again, the trusty cast-iron skillet is first choice for cooking scrambled eggs. A 10-inch pan works well for up to a dozen eggs. Crack one or two eggs per person into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and, if you like, chopped herbs such as marjoram, chives, chervil, and parsley.
2. Heat the pan over medium heat for a few minutes.
3. When it is hot, add 1 or more tablespoons of butter.
4. Beat the eggs lightly, and when the butter is foaming, pour the eggs into the pan. Let the eggs cook as loosely or as firmly as you like.
5. Take them off the heat a little before fully cooked; they will continue to cook in the time it takes to spoon them from the pan. Serve immediately.
My favorite way to serve eggs is fried in olive oil with lots of herbs, on top of brown rice and wilted greens.