Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Soft-Boiled Egg

The morning sun streams through the sliding door and lights up every surface in the dining room.  There’s no fog in sight.  Dew drops from the eaves and the trampoline in back.  Our lone sunflower is turning to its namesake to start one of its final days.  The kids are watching morning cartoons, cuddled together under a blanket. 

One whispers, “I’m hungry.”
“Me too”
“Well, what do you feel like eating?”
“Mark, can you make us those eggs you make?”
“You mean soft-boiled eggs?”
“Yeah!!!,” both of them scream.
How can I deny such enthusiasm? 

Every family has certain dishes that will forever be associated with one parent or the other.  While each parent may be able to make all the important family comfort foods, it just isn’t the same unless a certain one has made a particular dish.  In my family, the soft-boiled egg has become one of “my” dishes.  And the kids are very particular – the texture has to be just right.  The yolks have to have the right consistency – runny, but with a firmness you can only get in a farm-fresh egg.  The whites have to be cooked, but not quite solid, still gooey.  And they must be served warm.        

The perfect soft-boiled egg does require precision, but anyone can do it with a little patience.  Make sure you have the right raw goods.  Start with fresh, organic, vegetarian eggs.  I like to put four to six straight from the fridge into a strainer with handles that can hold the strainer on the lip of the pot, but make sure the strainer and water is deep enough for the eggs to be submerged.  
Once you are sure the strainer and pot work well and you have the right level of water, put the eggs back in the fridge.  Now heat the water to 180 degrees (any food thermometer will do).  This you will need to play with and practice.  You will want the water no hotter, no cooler than 180 and you will want to keep it there for the duration of cooking.  When the water gets to a touch over 180, put the eggs in carefully and hit the timer for seven minutes.  Do your best to keep the water temperature stable, but if it drops I will keep the eggs in for an extra 30 seconds or so.  If the temp goes to high, turn the heat down a touch.  When you’re ready to take them out, pull out the strainer only, take it to the sink and run cold water over the eggs to stop cooking.  Now they’re ready to serve.   
We place them in special egg holders and we use a special egg topper the kids call Evil Mickey to remove the top of the shell.  They use cute little spoons to dig in and scoop out all the deliciousness of the egg.  My stepdaughter loves to stick small pieces of toast into the egg to eat the yolk. 
“Look, the inside of my shell looks like there was nothing in it.”
“Wow!  How did you do that?”
“With my spoon!  Can I keep the shell?”
“No, it will just break and eventually sme……”
“Can we go watch TV now?”

Try this.  Don’t be afraid of partially cooked eggs.  If it pulls my kids away from Scooby Doo or the Power Rangers for a moment or two it may just work the same miracles for least for a few beautiful minutes of a sunny weekend morning. 
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