Guest Post: Eggs, Boiled, Hard; or Cooking with Engineers

Bad egg.

This guest post is brought to you by Mark, Jenn’s husband. You may remember me from such posts as the breakfast eggy muffins. My contribution to that post involved sticking my head into the frame when Jenn was photographing the food. This is pretty close to the limits of my cooking ability: getting in the way. In years gone by, Jenn used to say that she wished I cooked more so that she didn’t have all of the cooking responsibility. I have made a few attempts at cooking dinner. These adventures invariably went something like this:

LEGOs, I mean HEROES, arise to battle the sulphurous evil  

Me: I’m going to make dinner.
Jenn: Great! You are teh best husband evar!
Me: Where do you keep the spatulas?
Jenn: Cut up these carrots while I take care of this.

Ye olde field artillery

Right in the nards.

I’m only joking a little about this. We have since come to the realization that the kitchen belongs to Jenn, and that she really doesn’t want me in there. I am allowed in to make little things. Quesadillas, omelets, stuff like that. A week ago, while Jenn was out grocery shopping, I was overcome by the strange desire to make hard boiled eggs. I haven’t had a hard boiled egg in years, and came to the realization that I had never boiled one myself. TO THE INTERNET! I found some instructions (recipe?) and made a couple. I made a comment on Facebook that I had done this. Our friend, Chris, asked if I would be putting the recipe on Jenn’s blog. And the seed was planted.

Now, a week later, you are about to read a recipe on how to make a hard boiled egg. A recipe that is essentially boiling water with one additional step. I will turn this into 11 steps.

Its stony carapace encrackened by the frightening impact of the ballista bolt, Sir Percival Hedgeworth von Frinklington sallies forth to bestab the most sinister embryonic horror right in the cholesterol.

With the simplicity of the recipe stated, let me say this: My job description has “engineer” in it. I work in a highly regulated environment. I follow instructions. To the letter. Jenn doesn’t really measure anything. I measure EVERYTHING. Jenn views recipes as suggestions. I feel physical pain if I have to deviate from a recipe. “Salt the pasta water.” How much? I’m going to measure that shit. If a recipe isn’t very specific about something and I’m not sure what to do, I will probably become irritated and grumble and swear through the whole rest of the process. One of my engineery colleagues, let’s call her “Susan,” because that is her name, and I have had several discussions about altering recipes.  We are of one mind on these things.

“If we slew this beast before it cooled down, it would have been easier to flay.”

An actual exchange from the egg boil this morning:
Me: Does this count as “boiling”?
Jenn: No, that is not boiling. You know, it boils faster if you put a cover on the pot.
Me: [The Internet] didn’t say to cover it.

I know that water boils faster if you cover the pot. I studied a little thermal dynamics in school. BTUs. Conduction. Relative and absolute humidity. Shit like that. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying that this is obvious to me. But the recipe that I read didn’t say to cover the pot. So I didn’t. That’s how I roll.

Soup’s on, bitches.

So here is how to hard boil eggs:

One (1) pot capable of holding the appropriate number of eggs (see below) with 1-2” of water covering them.
One (1) lid, pot
Water, cold. Sufficient quantity to cover eggs placed in pot 1-2”.
One (1) device (stovetop is typical) capable of applying sufficient heat to the above pot, water and eggs to raise the temperature of the water to 212 degrees F (100 degrees C).
One (1) colander or strainer or spider. For removing eggs from heated water and/or holding eggs while running under cold water (See procedure).
One (1) timekeeping device capable of indicating the passage of 1-10 minutes.

x Eggs, where x=desired number of hard boiled eggs.
Salt (optional) Quantity: unknown. The Internet claims that salting the water may prevent eggs that crack during boiling from oozing out all over and will make peeling easier. No studies were referenced that prove these claims.

1. Place eggs in pot.
2. Fill pot with water, cold. Eggs should be at a depth of 1-2”.
3. Add salt (quantity: unknown) to water (if desired).
4. Place pot+water+egg(+salt) mixture on heating device.
5. Engage heating device to a setting capable of boiling water+egg(+salt) mixture.
6. When water boils,
6.1. If heating device is electric: turn off heat, simmer for 1 minute.
6.2. If heating device is gas: reduce heat, simmer for 1 minute.
7. Remove pot+water+egg(+salt) mixture from heating device.
8. Place lid, pot onto pot.
9. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
10. Remove eggs from water using spider, or pouring water/egg mixture into colander or strainer.
11. Place eggs into cold water, or under stream of, to stop cooking process.

At this point, eggs may be peeled and consumed immediately or used for other recipes requiring hard boiled eggs (see other recipes for further instructions).

30 thoughts on “Guest Post: Eggs, Boiled, Hard; or Cooking with Engineers

  1. This is the cutest post and the most specifc recipe for boiling eggs! I’m so much like Jenn, any recipe is a suggestion and nothing is written in stone. I swap, eye ball, and experiment:) it is interesting to see how the other kind thinks! Now I will be more specific when putting my recipes on the blog:)
    Thanks for a fun read!

    • Thanks, Nadya! I think Mark should write all me recipe instructions…there’d be far fewer errors! …And I think I’ll sign him up to tackle something more challenging next time – perhaps scrambled eggs?!

  2. Thanks for specific instructions, now I must make some for myself! As I am a ‘scientist’, I also feel the need to follow recipes to the T. If its not in it, I don’t do it/add it. You must not need it! Also love the use of your Legos! So awesome! If you need more figures for your next post, don’t hesitate to call!

  3. This was super!!! Being the non-cook in our family, I can completely relate to Mark. If you added tears to the swearing, you’ve painted a picture of a typical scene where I am in the kitchen attempting to cook.
    Mark, thank you for your post. I, for one, relish the fact that someone else needs detailed instructions on everything from putting the put lid on to measuring the salt.
    Jane Godfrey

  4. Love it! He’s a riot with both his writing and his “acting” skills.
    And I totally understand about following the recipe to a T – I think the same way. I am finally starting to break out of it though and cook without a recipe!

    • Thanks, Renee! I think it takes awhile for most people to cook without a recipe, and there’s probably too much fear built up around doing something “wrong,” or that the dish won’t turn out “just right.” I was lucky to have my mom as a teacher, and for her, recipes only came out when baking…but even then, there were cookies she would make that she could whip together by feel. I’ll never get there with baking!

  5. Thank you. This is an amazingly sympathetic portrait of why I also have to do all the cooking in my house. My husband has a PhD in electrical engineering. And we also have a surplus of Legos.

  6. Great post Mark! Pete measures and times everything when he makes boxed mac & cheese, and he’s not even an engineer. Must be a guy thing.

  7. Well, I tried to follow the recipe. Really, I did. But I managed to mess up before I got to step 2. I put the water in first, then the eggs (oops). I turned the stove on and walked over to my computer to check the recipe. Then I got distracted by the wonderful pictures here. I noticed in the last picture, there was one white egg. Was that egg already peeled, or was it a white egg mixed in with the brown eggs? And why are some eggs white and some brown, anyway? So I googled white versus brown eggs. (Apparently it’s the color of the chicken – who knew?) I read a few of the articles on egg color and poked around some of the websites. Then I checked my email, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Next thing I knew, my coffee was cold. When I went to freshen it up, I remembered the eggs on the stove. Since a significant amount of the water in the pan had boiled away by then, I figured they were done. Guess I’d never make it as an engineer. (By the way, great post Mark!)

    • HA! Thanks, Sue. I think you’re going to be the first student in Mark’s “Cooking with Engineers” school. We’re probably going to need a webinar series, I can see the demand is going to be high. 😉

  8. I must send this recipe to many of my friends who are totally unable to boil an egg. Also I must comment on the salt in the water…as I am a fan of what are lovingly called “Roach Coaches”…they always sell the very best in boiled eggs. I asked one of the egg sellers how it is that their eggs are always so easy to peel…and I mean everytime…the crotchety old fella whispered to me, “Put a handful of salt in the water!” And so I do…and it always works. Altho I don’t use a whole handful, as I think that would clog up the water. Thanks for the very excellent recipe!

  9. We have not colored Easter eggs in several years mainly because no one ate the eggs afterwards. Well Laura has developed a fondness for deviled eggs so we are going to color some eggs this year. But how do you hard boil an egg? I knew right where to find a recipe I could understand. I have followed the directions carefully with only one deviation, I used a lid, but only because Jenn said to. Thanks!

  10. Pingback: On friendships… and food | One Life to Eat

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