One of my favorite seminars at this year's Classic was a cooking demo performed by French luminary Jacques Pépin along with his daughter, Claudine. On this sunny Saturday in Aspen, you'd never have guessed that Jacques, who's cooked for Charles de Gaulle and with Julia Child, turns 74 this year: the ebullient chef and his witty daughter exchanged lots of lively banter, and managed to make a whopping six tomato dishes in 45 minutes!
Although I can't wait to make the pair's appetizing tomato dishes, the most useful facts were his tips on boiling eggs, which they used in a harlequin tomato salad. "Just cooking an egg white is like a big deal for me," Jacques said. To see how the world's most blissful boiled egg is made, read on.
- Use a sharp object like a thumbtack to puncture a hole in the round end of the egg, where the air chamber is. It releases pressure inside of the egg, so the shell won't crack.
- Let eggs cook in a very gentle boil for 10 minutes. They should not boil at too high a temperature, otherwise the the egg white will be tough, and the inside green and rubbery.
- After the eggs have simmered, pour out the hot liquid, and shake the pan to crackle the shells.
- Next submerge it in an ice water bath. Leave the eggs in the cold bath for 15 minutes, enough time to allow the eggs to cool and the stinky sulfur inside the eggs to dissipate into the ice water.
- Peel the egg under a stream of water. This makes it easier to peel away the egg's thin outer membrane. Enjoy tender, perfectly cooked egg!
Jacques also explained that as eggs get older, their air chamber gets larger. To get a sense of the age of an egg, submerge it in water. Older eggs will float, while fresh ones will sink.
I can't wait to go home and try his tips — especially the one that helps prevent boiled eggs from cracking. What pointers can you proffer for cooking an egg just right?