Ocean City Today

Walker discusses poached, scrambled and boiled eggs

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Apr 12, 2017

(April 14, 2017) Has one ever taken a moment to consider the fascinating occurrences that encompass our daily lives?

The kitchen alone is a sanctuary of culinary lore and scientific phenomena. Shedding light on conundrums that confound chefs not only raises our level of awareness but also enlightens us to the wonderful world of glorious food.

Eggs are one of the most versatile and popular ingredients. M.F.K. Fisher brilliantly describes an egg as “probably one of the most private thing in the world until it is broken.” The intriguing egg is the “thought for the day.”

According to culinary legend, the chef’s hat, with all its pleats, represents the many ways that a chef can prepare eggs. For example, they can be soft-boiled, hard-boiled, coddles, poached, fried and scrambled. Eggs can be transformed into frittatas, omelets and soufflés, and can also add flavor, consistency and color to other dishes.

Before we can distinguish the flavors of Deviled Eggs with a Surprise, we must explore how traditional techniques work. An understanding of what food is and how it works is just as important as the recipe itself.

The most obvious advantage of such knowledge is that it frees the cook from a dependence on directions which in turn develops confidence. Our discussion will focus on boiled, poached and scrambled eggs. If you adore eggs, the following information will prove to be helpful.

Eggs are cooked in the shell to make hard- and soft-boiled eggs and coddled. Despite the name, boiled eggs should not be boiled but simmered throughout the cooking process. Boiling water is turbulent and will smash the eggs into each other and the pan walls, cracking the shell, allowing some of the albumen to leak out, which results in overcooked eggs that produce an unpleasant rubbery texture.

That being said, there is nothing more frustrating than peeling an egg and the shell sticks to it. There are two basic reasons for this occurrence. The age of the egg does make a difference; fresh eggs are more likely to stick to the shell. In addition, if the egg is overcooked, the shell will stick to the egg.

Another oddity about hard-boiled eggs is the occasional appearance of a greenish-gray discoloration on the surface of the yolk. According to “On Food and Cooking,” the color is caused by a chemical reaction involving sulfur (from the egg white) and iron (from the yolk), which naturally reacts to form sulfide at the surface of the yolk. The reaction is usually caused by overcooking, but can also be brought about by high amounts of iron in the cooking water.

Soft-boiled eggs are basically the same thing as hard-boiled eggs except the cooking time is less which results in a runny yolk. It is important to note that the cooking time varies according to the amount of eggs in the pot. For instance, if a soft-boiled egg recipe calls for one dozen eggs and you decide to cook two dozen eggs, the cooking time needs to be increased.

What exactly is a coddled egg? Coddling is a gentle steaming method that produces a tender egg. It is similar to a poached egg, but is cooked in its shell or an egg coddler.

The simplicity of a poached egg is its greatest attribute; the simpler the dish, the more the chef’s skill is on display. Let us delve into the intricacies of a poached egg.

The voluptuous poached egg is made by carefully sliding a raw egg from a bowl into a pan of simmering water, where it slowly sets. One of the challenges in cooking poached eggs is producing a compact shape without overcooking the white. Always use the freshest eggs you can find for poaching; the thick albumen will hold its shape better around the yolk than older eggs.

Do not shell the eggs until just before they are to be cooked; if left to sit in the open air, their quality declines quickly. Adding vinegar, lemon juice, or salt to the poaching water will help the eggs coagulate faster; just remember you will be influencing the flavor of the eggs.

Poached eggs can be prepared in advance to make the workload easier during service. Slightly underpoach the eggs, trim them and keep them in cold water. At the time of service, reheat the eggs in simmering water.

Scrambled eggs are among the most popular egg dishes and can be made in two basic ways; the eggs can be stirred constantly over low heat for a soft delicate curd and creamy texture, or stirred less frequently so they develop a larger curd and firm texture. However, if you want a soufflé-like texture, place eggs and cream/milk in the blender for 15 seconds. This process incorporates a tremendous amount of air into the egg mixture for an airy, velvety consistency.

Easter is upon us and entertaining is in full swing. Experience, intuition and a discriminating palate distinguish one cook from another. Deviled eggs with a hunk of jumbo lump crabmeat hidden under the yolk mixture are so simple to make. The art of using a piping bag adds beautification and sophistication.

A garnish of Old Bay seasoning ties in the theme of the Eastern Shore and celebrates the bounties of the sea. Deviled Eggs with a Surprise are decadent, divine and delicious. Happy Easter.

Deviled Eggs with a Surprise


8 large eggs

1/3 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon shallots, minced (optional)

kosher salt to taste

16 jumbo lumps crabmeat

Old Bay seasoning as a garnish

piping bag with decorative tip

1. Place eggs in medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil; then reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. While the eggs are cooking, combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and shallots in a small bowl and whip thoroughly.

3. When eggs are cooked, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Carefully peel eggs and slice lengthwise. Remove yolks and combine with mayonnaise mixture, and blend until smooth.

4. Place 1 jumbo lump crabmeat in each half of the egg white. Pipe seasoned yolk mixture on top; keep in mind the art of presentation. Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning as a garnish.

Secret Ingredient - Desire.  “The starting point of all achievement is desire.”

Napoleon Hill

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