The Perfect Egg
As some of you will know, we are the proud owners of 4 chickens thanks to lockdown. We had been meaning to get the coop built for ages and were advised 3 or 4 chickens per family was plenty. The girls are all laying daily and 28 Eggs a week for 2 of us is just about right with all the cooking I do. I have managed to slip some to my neighbours now and then and they can’t believe how tasty they are. Not only are Eggs healthy, full of protein, iron, vitamin A and D, but if you don’t have chickens, they are also inexpensive. Different types of Eggs include free-range, pullet, quail, bantam, duck and of course the most common battery Egg. To test the freshness of the Egg, simply place it in a tumbler of cold water. If the Egg floats to the surface it is likely to be bad or even rotten. However, if it lies flat in the bottom of the glass it is fresh, but beware, if it starts to tilt, it is becoming old.
You can keep Eggs in a fridge for up to a month and they should be stored in their original box, as transferring them to an Egg container on the fridge door can expose them to odour and damage. Never store them near strong smelling food like onions as they absorb odours very quickly. When Eggs are stored at room temperature they lose more quality in one day than a week in the fridge.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Ideal for picnics, packed lunches, salads and BBQ’s. Hard boiled Eggs should not be boiled, but simmered. Never cook Eggs straight from the fridge. Remove them beforehand and bring them to room temperature. This way they will cook quicker and are less likely to crack. The perfect hard boiled Egg is better when they have not been over cooked which leaves them with rubbery tough whites and powdery yolks. Start cooking the Eggs in cold water and never cook longer than ten minutes in total. Once the Eggs are cooked, remove from heat and place in cold water and leave to cool. This will reduce the black ring around the yolk that sometimes forms and also make the Eggs easier to shell.
The choice of oil when frying an Egg makes all the difference to the flavour. Good olive oil like extra virgin takes some beating, but you can mix in some sunflower or groundnut oil if you wish. Heat the oil first and then always break the Egg into a cup first before sliding it into the frying pan. Cook on a medium heat as high heat will create hard crispy bits around the outside of the white. Baste the yolks and the top of the Egg occasionally with the oil until cooked to your liking. Always cook one Egg at a time and remove from the pan with a fish slice or palette knife.
If you have a poaching pan then fill it half with water and bring to the boil. Fill each cup with a small amount of butter and allow to melt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and break the Eggs into a cup first before sliding them into the cups. Simmer gently until cooked to your liking – around 3 minutes.
If you don’t have a poacher, half fill a saucepan with water and add a drop of vinegar (this helps to keep the shape of the Egg in the water). Boil the water and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack the Eggs into a cup and then slide them into the water and cook to your liking – about 3 minutes. Remove Eggs from the water with a slotted spoon.
Whisk the Eggs until frothy and season with salt and pepper (2-3 Eggs per person). Melt a teaspoon of butter in a saucepan. The best scrambled Eggs are cooked slowly on a very low heat, stirred with a wooden spoon. Do not add milk to the mixture. Once the butter has melted, put whisked Eggs into the pan and cook gently, stirring. Once the Eggs are lightly set, remove from heat as they will continue to cook in the heat of the pan, but you must stir until thickened. Serve immediately.
Soft Boiled Eggs
Remove Eggs from fridge and leave until room temperature. Bring a saucepan half full of water to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Place an Egg on a spoon and gently lower until some of the hot water is on the spoon. Turn the Egg around to seal it all the way round. This will prevent cracking. Lower the Egg gently to the bottom and depending on your taste, cook for 4 minutes by increasing the heat, but never boil. Remove the Eggs and serve immediately.