Hard-cooked (steamed) eggs

Forget everything you’ve read about hard boiled eggs. Almost everyone will tell you you should cover the eggs with cold water, bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat off. It’s not so much that it doesn’t work, but there’s a much easier, more reliable method, and this is it. The advantages: it takes much less time (and less water); you don’t have to worry about watching the water and being there right when it reaches a boil; and it’s much harder to overcook the eggs. See those egg yolks at the top left of the photo? The ones with the green layer on the outside? They were cooked by the traditional bring-to-a-boil-and-let-sit method. The ones at the bottom right were steamed, and even when we purposely overcooked one by several minutes (that one off by itself), it didn’t turn green. Oh, and eggs done this way are also much easier to peel.

To hard cook eggs with a steamer, choose a pot and steamer insert that fit together leaving room for at least 3/4 inch of water without the water touching the eggs. You’ll need a tight-fitting lid as well. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil without the steamer insert. (Covering it isn’t absolutely necessary, but the water will come to a boil faster). While the water comes to a boil, arrange the eggs in the steamer insert in a single layer leaving some room between the eggs so the steam can penetrate evenly. If you have a lot of eggs to cook, you’re better off doing two batches than trying to cram them all in at once.

When the water boils, place the steamer insert in the pan (be careful not to burn yourself) and cover the pan again. If your lid doesn’t fit tightly, you may want to lay a clean towel over the top of the pot and place the lid on top of it. That will keep the lid from rattling and the pot from spitting. Just make sure that you fold the towel up over the top so the edges don’t get near the burner. (And be careful when removing the towel after the eggs are cooked; it will be really hot.)

Steam the eggs for 13 to 14 minutes if you want the centers pale yellow and completely set. Steaming for 12 minutes will produce eggs with a small moist, dark yellow core in the middle of the yolk; 9 to 10 minutes will give you yolks that are set but very moist and dark yellowish-orange. (All times are for large eggs.)

When the eggs are done, place them in a bowl of ice water if you want cold eggs; 15 to 20 minutes in ice water will chill them completely. Crack and peel. For warm eggs, place the eggs in a bowl of room temperature water until they’re cool enough to handle and then peel them.

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