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May 27, 2014 AT 10:00 am

The art and science of boiling the perfect egg #ArtTuesday

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Serious Eats author J. Kenji López-Alt takes a scientific approach in boiling that perfect egg. It truly is an art form.

Back when I was a lowly line cook at a fancy-pants restaurant in Boston, as the new guy*, it was my job to wake my butt up at the crack of dawn to come in early and prep breakfast whenever one of the Beacon Hill politicians wanted to impress their campaign funders with boozy waffles and perfectly soft-boiled eggs topping their asparagus. In those days, I used the brute-force method of getting perfect boiled eggs: I boiled at least three times what I needed, knowing that at least half of them would stick to their shells and turn into egg salad sandwiches for family meal.

Since then, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect and refine my methodology. The secret to peeling hard boiled eggs? Well “secret” might be a bit of an exaggeration. Here’s the truth: there is no 100% fool-proof method, and anybody who tells you different is selling something. And I do believe I’ve tried them all, many, many times over. The number of eggs I’ve boiled over the last several years in carefully controlled circumstances numbers well into the thousands, but despite that, the best boiled egg I cooked this year is no better than the best boiled egg I cooked twelve years ago in that Beacon Hill kitchen.

That said, a bit of the old scientific method has helped to greatly increase my success rate. Finding the hard truth about boiled eggs was a tough case to, er, crack.* I can now pretty routinely produce perfectly boiled eggs with clean-peeling shells, and you can too!

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