The Wrong Ways to Cook Eggs
At the Standard Grill—in André Balazs’s NYC outpost of the Standard Hotel—executive chef Dan Silverman and his team crank out more than 2,000 egg orders a week. In addition to mastering the ability to crack an egg and release its contents with one hand, Silverman has perfected every classic cooking technique for his breakfast menus. With Memorial Day brunches and a summer of deviled eggs ahead, we asked Silverman to identify the most common mistakes made by home cooks.
Hard- and Soft-Boiled Eggs Mistakes
- Starting with hot water. Hot or even warm water will increase the chances of accidentally cracking the shell of a cold, fresh-from-the-fridge egg. When preparing to hard-boil eggs, fill the pot with just enough cool tap water to cover the eggs.
- Letting the eggs boil. Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the flame and set a timer for 10 minutes for hard-boiled eggs and four minutes for soft-boiled. “It just disturbs me when I see that green-grayish hue that develops around the yolk when eggs overcook,” says Silverman.
- Leaving eggs in hot water. Once the 10 minutes are up, drain the hot water from the pot and drop the eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. When they become just cool enough to handle, they’ll be ready to peel and eat. Even if you don’t intend on eating the hard-boiled eggs immediately, rolling the eggs in the pot to crack the shells will help with peeling later.
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Poached Eggs Mistakes
- Using old eggs. “The egg white will have a better chance of staying together if the egg is fresh,” says Silverman. Otherwise, errant bits of the white will thin out and separate from the egg while cooking.
- Keeping the egg and vinegar separate. “If you look at poached egg recipes,” explains Silverman, “they’ll say to put the vinegar into the water, but I like to put the egg and the vinegar together.” He suggests cracking an egg into a small bowl with roughly half a cup of vinegar (preferably white) before cooking to add a bit of acidity and help set the egg white.
- Trying to drop an egg into actively boiling water. To achieve the proper water temperature, Silverman suggests bringing water to a boil, then turning the flame down to medium heat: “You want to see gentle bubbles. If the water if bubbling too vigorously, the white will just fly all over the place.” He then stirs the pot to create a mini whirlpool and gently tips the bowl with egg and vinegar into the water, being careful not to break the yolk.
Scrambled Eggs Mistakes
- Scrambling in the pan. For more even cooking, it’s better to whisk and season cracked eggs in a bowl before attempting to scramble them.
- Leaving the eggs alone. After adding the egg mixture to a buttered or oiled pan, keep moving them around with a spatula until they’ve cooked to the desired consistency. “The crazy unique thing about eggs is that everyone has their own ideal,” says Silverman. “I like the looser, French-style scrambled egg, but I could never make that at home for my family. They like the harder, American-style scrambled egg.”
- Using a cast-iron pan. “Cleaning up is so much easier if you cook scrambled eggs with a nonstick pan,” says Silverman.