March 10, 2016
How To Cook The Perfect Eggs
In honor of Easter, food editor Kristen Eppich shares her secrets to cooking the perfect eggs.
When I started at George Brown Chef School, I remember naively thinking that all the focus on egg cookery was a waste of time. Looking back now, it’s so clear to me that it’s the first true test of technique – to cook an egg properly is the ultimate combination of timing and method. I’ve grown to love cooking eggs, because done properly there are few things more satisfying and simple. My two favorite ways to cook an egg are to poach it and enjoy a soft, runny center, or to make a classic French omelet. Here are my tips to mastering both.
Fabulous French Omelet
I’m coming clean right off the bat – I take two shortcuts with my French omelets. First, I use a non-stick pan, instead of a seasoned omelet pan. Second, I use oil instead of the traditional clarified butter for convenience. The entire cooking time for a French omelet should take under 1 minute, so read through these instructions fully before you begin:
- Heat a small non-stick pan with sloped edges over medium-high. Omelets are cooked very quickly, so this slightly higher heat is warranted as they won’t have time to burn.
- Crack 2 eggs in a medium bowl and whisk with a fork just until smooth, not frothy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1 tsp vegetable oil into your hot pan and swirl to coat.
- Pour eggs into the hot pan and immediately begin stirring the eggs with the back of a fork, while vigorously shaking the pan with the other hand. While stirring, the uncooked portion of the eggs will seep into the open sections of the pan, evenly cooking the eggs. Stop shaking and stirring once the eggs have begun to set but are still very moist in appearance – you don’t want gaps in your omelets (this stage is very quick, maximum 30 seconds). If your eggs begin to brown you have cooked them too long.
- Tilt the pan away from you, so the omelet slides away from you, partially up the slope of the pan. If you have filling, scoop it in now. Using your fork, help guide the edge of the omelets over the filling, and then flip the opposite edge over as well. Remove pan from heat.
- Hold the pan above a plate. Continue tilting the pan away from you and flip the omelet onto a plate, seam-side down.
A Perfect Poach
Poached eggs get a bad rap for being hard to make, but you get the hang of it with a bit of practice. And aside from boiling water, they take only a few minutes.
- Add enough water to a small saucepan to reach 2 inches depth. Measure how much water this is, then return to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat until water just stops simmering and is steaming hot. Hold heat there. Add 1 tsp vinegar for every 2 cups of water. (Vinegar helps coagulate the egg white so you lose less of it when it’s initially added to the water. This ratio is also little enough that you won’t taste it and it won’t harden the egg white.)
- Use a spoon to create a whirlpool in the pot of water. This will keep the egg in the center and keep the white from splaying off. Crack an egg into a ladle, and gently ladle the egg into the center of the spinning water. Some of the egg will spin off, this is normal.
- Allow to cook untouched. If you are looking for a slightly undercooked white with a very runny center (soft-poached) cook for 3 minutes. For a fully cooked but tender white with a runny yolk (medium-poached) cook for 4 minutes. For a firm white and semi-firm yolk (hard-poached) cook for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from water. Rest spoon over a bowl to let all the water run off.