There are a thousand ways to cook an egg, but only a few ways to cook it well.
Let’s start with the boiled egg. There are all kinds of ways to boil an egg.
Some prefer the cold start method, placing the eggs in a saucepan with cold water, then bringing them up to a boil and starting the clock from there. Whether you cook them cold start or with already boiling water, the most important thing I have found is the amount of time you cook the egg.
A three minute egg is clearly not negotiable. I suspect its been the three minute egg since the beginning of time and since time doesn’t change, I am sticking with the three minutes cooking time. The hard boiled egg is another matter altogether. Like fried and scrambled eggs, everyone has a preference of how runny they want the yolk to be. And, in my case, how runny or hard I want it to be for the purpose I am using it for.
Hardboiled eggs split open and eaten as ovals with salads, antipasti or aioli platters should never be hard or dry. The whites should have a lot of give with a bit of the yellow yolk slightly undercooked, but not too runny. The edges of the yolk should be light yellow and just beginning to coagulate, while the center should be dark yellow and creamy, like you could run your finger through it as you would an almost ready crème anglaise. I only like to eat this kind of egg when it’s warm, otherwise, the texture is no longer right. I mostly eat it plane, but also love it with a slather of mayonnaise and a pinch of flat crystal salt, such as maldon. The crunch from the salt is a nice contrast to the creamy center. Cracked black pepper is optional.
For this hard boiled egg, gently place eggs in boiling water a few at time with a Chinese strainer, the number determined by the size of the pan and strainer. Cook for exactly eight minutes, then carefully drain off the hot water and fill the pot with cold water until only cold water remains. Let the eggs cool until they can be handled, then peel them. There is nothing more delicious than a still warm egg with a sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, and perhaps a small dollop of mayonnaise.
For egg salad. The cook time is still exactly 9 minutes. The only difference is I don’t rush them into cold water to stop cooking. I let them sit a bit before peeling, as they will continue to cook. The nuance in the texture of the yolk can be counted in seconds, but there is no need to get anxious about this method. Mistakes will be made. Eggs will not peel. There may even be the dreaded grey ring. Just do the best you can with what you have and make it wonderful. The secret to the perfect texture for egg salad is to use a pastry cutter.
And then there’s the everlasting classic omelet.
I’ve never been a big fan of omelets, mostly because it’s so hard to get them just perfectly right. I tend to like my omelet less runny, but without any uncooked yolks streaming from the jellyroll of a thing. Jaques pepin two kinds of omelets, the elegant almost runny style that is perfectly yellow when cooked with an unreasonable amount of butter. Not a second for any hesitation, and quick flip of the wrist. The other version is browned on the outside and edges with a forgiving nature and more rustic casual country-style.
My version of the omelet is the frittata. I like the simplicity making a simple frittata. It’s a good base for a million versions, especially my favorite “clean out the refrigerator” recipe, which is not really a recipe at all. The easiest way to enhance and egg is, of course, to add a dollop of pesto.