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April 5, 2009

How to boil an Easter egg



Along with all the spring chores I was doing today, I got it into my head to dye Easter eggs. I had a carton of eggs that had somehow slipped past its expire date; and rather than throw them out, I bought a coloring kit at the supermarket, which, of course, cost more than a dozen eggs would have. My life is often like that.

Here was the amazing part: I found myself looking up how to hard-boil an egg. Even though I haven't had to look up a recipe for, say, making hollandaise since I was 12. ...

It shows you how often I eat hard-boiled eggs.

I knew the obvious things: Cooking in enamel or other non-aluminum pan; starting with clean, room temperature eggs. (Washing a raw egg in soapy water is strange.) The most important thing was that the eggs not crack. But I was impatient.

I decided to cover the eggs straight from the fridge in cold water and cook them over low heat for half an hour, never letting the water boil. I suppose it worked. They didn't crack, and they don't seem to be still raw.

I'm not happy with the colors, though. They aren't brilliant enough.

You call that purple?

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:54 PM | | Comments (37)


Purple never comes out well.

Not being able to remember under which D@L post Yum Porchetta posted her recipe for her namesake pork delight,( a search didn’t help), I’ve decided to post my cooking results here.

Friday, a week ago, I pulled my 7.5 pound pork shoulder from the fridge to prep it for Sunday dinner. It was a skinless shoulder that I had had the butcher bone since I wasn’t sure what the bone structure was and the butcher does it for no extra.

I butterflied the shoulder with a boning knife to a thickness of an inch to an inch and a half. It was about 22 inches long when I finished.

I made a mixture of the ingredients as recommended by YM but putting only a half TBS of the sea salt and adding the zest of a lemon plus the juice of half, a tsp of dried rosemary and sprig of fresh rosemary from my plant stripped, and a ½ tsp of oregano. Unable to locate my mortar and pestle I used the cusinart to make the paste.

I sprinkled an additional ½ TBS of the sea salt over the flesh surface to simulate a brining effect and then spread the seasoning paste thickly over the exposed surface.

I rolled the meat tightly like a jelly roll until almost complete and then stuck my boning knife through it to hold the shape while I tied it securely every which way. It wrapped in clear wrap and placed in a bowl in the fridge until Sunday morning.

It was browned as per the recipe and then set in the covered dutch oven for 10 hours. Basting was done every 2 hours which served to check on the juice level which I found did not decrease but actually increased. I had to remove juice to keep the level below the roasting rack.

The removed juice was used toward the end of the process to oven roast some potatoes and carrots.

When we ate it all I can say is Yum Porchetta, delicious. The next time I make it I will reduce the amount of fennel seed because it was too intense for me but my wife liked it. The shoulder will also be butterflied to 1 ½ to 2 inches since the brining effect of the sea salt directly on the flesh worked very well. Even the thicker parts were extremely flavorful. I will also do it in advance for that reason as well.

Leftovers have been great. The meat is so tender that it easily shreds when heated again. During the last week we have had “pulled pork” sandwiches with Andy Nelson’s BBQ sauce. Today, I made Cuban sandwiches which were outstanding.


Paas! Paas video, totally NSFW

I give. Why not an aluminum pot?

I dunno, and I'm too lazy to Google. :-) EL

I hope you have no plans to actually eat those eggs, EL. When I make hard-boiled eggs I cook them just above a simmer for 12 minutes for extra-large eggs, then plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking. I'm willing to bet that your eggs will have the dreaded green ring.

No, I think it's dangerous to eat them if they've been out for more than a couple of hours. Their only job is to sit around and look pretty for a week, then I'll toss them. I wouldn't have eaten them anyway because the expire date had passed. EL

My method is similar to Dahlink's.

I take the eggs right from the fridge and put them in an enamel pot. I didn't know you weren't supposed to use aluminum.
I cover them with water and bring to a boil. Then I set the timer for 12 minutes. When it goes off, I take the eggs off the heat and run some cold water on them. Then I leave a little bit of water in the pot and add ice cubes. When the ice cubes are about half gone, the eggs are ready for peeling or whatever.

Seems to work well for me, and no green rings.

Why not an aluminum pot?

I remember something about the chemical reaction with aluminium molecules and heat and the sulfur in eggs. I think the result is rumored to be aluminum sulfide which causes the green ring around the yolk. There is a whole blackboard thing/chemical reaction/molecule thing.

Not to be too dense this morning, but you are kidding about washing the raw eggs in soapy water aren't you?

Nope. It was in the vain hope that the color would stick better and be more uniform. EL

Paas and Cooks Illustrated recommend bringing eggs to a boil, turning off heat and letting them sit it hot water for 12-15 minutes, then cool water bath to prevent overcooking and the dreaded green ring

Too much chance of their cracking if they aren't room temperature if you do it that way. EL

Apparently, that one egg needs further empurpling, although I'm hesitant to suggest it outright without PCB Rob's concurrance.

I agree with the Paas directions. I do it that way and always have had good results. Eating hard boiled egg whites (with just a sprinkle of Old Bay) is one of my favorite and easiest lunches to pack.

Empurpling. Darn, how did I miss that one, Bucky.

You've probably been too busy writing the definitive D@L comments to visit Wordville lately.

We fully understand, and it was worth it.

Heck, if you're not gonna eat them, just get a few cans of neon-color spray paint and give 'em a few coats.

Swerve alert! (In response to LEC's post)
Hi LEC, I am very pleased you enjoyed the porchetta but especially proud of you for improvising. (The original recipe is posted under "Say Cheese" in the March Archives, by the way.) To extend the bliss, I've also done the same as you with the leftovers ( and tried other creative combinations) when I've run out of juice/gravy. It's a sin to waste such deliciousness.

I concur.

Oh Lord, Bucky, I've just come crawling back from Wordville, where today's post is castigating the "free-associative piling up of details". Please tell me it's a coincidence that the professor is bringing this up now. He's going to be "devoting some attention this week to writing of ill-advised excess". Cringe.

Laura Lee - I don't believe it was "the "free-associative piling up of details". It was connecting the (seemingly unrelated, to the uninitiated) dots of this oft-swerving blog dialogue.

And it was a helluva a job.

Leafy Laura Lee, pay no attention to the man behind the word curtain. Access the excess.

Harumph. And that from the man who called my posts rococo.

Ms Porchetta

Jeez, Cheese. Who would have thunk? Thanks for fielding my swerve. I'll be bringing a seasoned porker with me to Maine in July to balance the lobster and fish heavy diet there.


Ms E

In my experience the dates are sell by dates and not expire dates. Since commercial eggs are sealed to prevent spoilage because of air infiltration, I have rarely found a commercial "fresh" egg that is easy to shell when hardboiled.

I always put the eggs in water, bring to a hard boil, turn off the heat and wait 20 minutes. Then place in an ice bath container until very cooled and then shell.

And if you're not going to eat them, who cares if there is a ring around the yolk.

Well, if you're not going to eat them, why bother to hard boil them at all?

They seem less fragile that way. And it's how my mother did it. :-) EL

You are waiting too long. If you wait only 12-13 minutes, they peel really easily.

And the Eggland's Best Eggs seem to peel the easiest, but the store brand peel real easy too.

PCB Rob, in my experience the fresher the egg, the harder is it to peel. When we still had kiddies at home, I would buy eggs for coloring at least two weeks before Easter so they would be usable after the obligatory hunt.

Expiration dates on eggs? You put an egg in a bowl of water. If the egg floats, throw out the carton very carefully, so that you don't crack any. If the eggs sink, they are still good to eat.

Eggs that are a few weeks old are better for hard boiled than fresh eggs. The shell sticks to fresh eggs after boiling.

I can't eggs that are a few weeks old if I know about it. EL

I've just come crawling back from Wordville

Relax, LL. McIntyre is not petty. (Some of those who post to Wordville are, though. Perhaps his latest memo, on civility, will jog things.)

Well, if you're not going to eat them, why bother to hard boil them at all?

My sister-the-artist used to poke tiny holes in each end of the raw eggs and blows the guts out of 'em. Then she'd meticulously paint intricate designs as well as portraits of the recipients. The eggs were extremely fragile and especially when given to a 2-year-old, almost a burden to receive.

All of that changed, of course, when she had 3 kids. Now that she has a bunch of grandsons who throw Easter egss at each other, she uses plastic $ Store eggs, like the rest of us.

I think that Expiration date is probably a Sell By date. There is usually a week or so of latitude in there.

I don't even like to eat food that's a day or two before its sell by date. I do it, but it creeps me out. The idea of a week or so of latitude afterward gives me the heeby-jeebies. EL

If you add about 3 TBs of regular salt to the water at the beginning, the eggs will peel great! Don't know why this works but it does.

I have never understood how you could poke a small hole in a raw egg without ending up with egg and shell bits everywhere.

(Should this happen to you, dump tons of salt on the egg, let it sit for a bit so the salt absorbs the egg, then sweep up with a broom. Otherwise, you get egg goo everywhere. Stinky egg goo, after a few weeks.)

This thread reminds me of what a saint my mother is (still going strong at 89--yay, Mom!) My college residence hall had a Mexican Christmas theme, and we stuffed blown out eggshells with confetti and smashed them over people's heads (more fun than you might imagine). When my mother heard this, she blew out every egg she used in cooking for months, to supply us with empty shells. Amazing!

(Should this happen to you, dump tons of salt on the egg, let it sit for a bit so the salt absorbs the egg, then sweep up with a broom. Otherwise, you get egg goo everywhere. Stinky egg goo, after a few weeks.)

I will make a note of this. Odd things happen when cooking with Small Boy helpers.

Eve, my mother taught me the salt trick because she had to cook with Small Girl helper. We will not mention the time I dumped an entire saucepan of chicken noodle soup into the silverware drawer or the time she came home to find me on my hands and knees in the kitchen with a hammer and a flat head screwdriver trying to get my attempt at homemade taffy off the floor.

EL: "I don't even like to eat food that's a day or two before its sell by date. I do it, but it creeps me out. The idea of a week or so of latitude afterward gives me the heeby-jeebies."

The steaks you get at the best steak houses taste so good partly because they are appropriately aged. They're not those bright red bloody things you see under plastic at the Giant.

So, when I used to eat meat, I'd home-age beef in the back of the fridge for a few days, maybe up to a week. Or buy the "past freshness date" meat at the grocer's. It always was better than "new" meat.

Yes, but steaks aren't something that are supposed to be fresh like milk, chicken, eggs. It's just how I feel if let myself think about it. EL

I think of mold as just part of nature's plan. Without mold, there would be no great cheese, right?

Back to empurpling--years ago, I attended a natural dye Easter egg workshop at the Irvine Nature Center with one of my sons. We created beautiful soft colors with natural dyes. I remember a beautiful muted yellow from onion skins, various soft greens, and I think we got pink with beets. Depending on what's in your larder, could be a whole lot cheaper than buying those Paas kits. My mother taught me to always add a teaspoon of vinegar to the dye to help it set.

The salt trick works with red wine spilled on the the rug also.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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