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DigiBites: Chef Charlie Is A Good Egg, But He Makes ‘Em Even Better!

Photo: Epicurean Exchange


(We pride ourselves on a few things done well here at NEWS24/680 – and one of them is our Scribbler’s Breakfast, which involves a sourdough muffin, light egg scramble, avocado and a dusting of cheese. But then our resident expert and wayfaring chef extraordinaire gets in our heads a little and shows us how its really done! Editor)



Hard-Cooked Eggs

It’s Friday. An office day here at Epicurean Exchange. I had this for lunch today. Since it was SO good, and also provides an opportunity to share another “important” cooking skill – boiling eggs – I thought I would share. AND, the photos are worth the post alone!

For something as seemingly simple as cooking a hard-boiled egg, there are an endless array of “recipes” for preparing them properly.  “Properly” frankly means cooking them the way YOU prefer them. Some like the yolks fully-cooked (pale yellow with green ring around the yolk and a chalky consistency), while others prefer a moist, deep orange yolk that may not be fully-cooked. Others may like something in between. Variations reflect the temperature of the egg just prior to cooking; starting with cold or hot water; the amount of water; using a cover or not; the length of time the egg is cooked; and finally, how it is cooled. Regardless of the technique used, the key to a great hard-boiled egg is the egg – choose fresh, high-quality, LARGE eggs. My finished product:  whites cooked, but not rubbery; yolks cooked, but slightly soft in the very center (see photo), moist and creamy. Some things are just better done well!

For comparison, I am presenting two techniques. I have never publicly put myself up against Julia in any way, but here goes:  For my technique, I have found I can never remember when the eggs actually come to a boil (hence, starting with boiling water), and reduce the steps to the bare minimum.  Again, my goal is to encourage more cooking, and extra steps are a barrier to better cooking or cooking at all.

Chef Charlie’s Technique:  If the eggs are cold, place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.  Fill a medium pot with water; bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer. Using a large strainer, gently place all the eggs in the water. Start a timer for 11 minutes. Once the eggs have cooked, pour off hot water and replace with cold tap water two or three times, then let eggs rest in cold water until cool.

Julia Child’s Technique: Lay the eggs in a pan covered by 1-inch of cold water. Set over high heat and bring just to a boil; remove from heat, cover the pan, and let sit exactly 17 minutes. When time is up, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice cubes and water. Chill for 2 minutes while bringing the cooking water to a boil again. Transfer the eggs to the boiling water, bringing to a boil again, and let them boil again for 10 seconds.  Remove eggs, and place back in the ice water.

Peeling Eggs: Using my technique – warming the eggs in water before cooking (not cold from the fridge), and cooling them off at the end (which also stops them from cooking) – makes the eggs easier to peel.

Chef Charlie’s BEST Egg Salad
6 large cooked eggs, peeled, and coarsely cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/ 4 – 1/2 cup (depending on taste) Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Maille Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
ACME Rustic Sour Bread
•  Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
•  Add the chopped egg and gently fold to combine. Taste, adjust seasoning.
•  Serve liberally on slices of bread as shown
Keep it simple. Or, add: capers, chopped olives, scallions, parsley, tarragon, chives.


  1. It’s nice to know how to cook things to near perfection, extra well! However, even with my limited kitchen skills, I have no desire to produce the perfect boiled egg as often described in books and cooking lessons. It is for one simple reason. You use a LOT of drinkable water. I hope you are not salting it and are using it for your plants at least. UNLIKELY! “Once the eggs have cooked, pour off hot water and replace with cold tap water TWO OR THREE times” (emphasis added by me). Start with a “bowl of warm water” if the eggs are cold. Of course they are cold. 99% of the time they just came from the fridge. “Fill a medium pot with water;bring to a boil”. We all like to eat well. I like to eat well! but seriously this is a bourgeois pursuit by definition. A boiled egg requires a container for boiling water, heat, and an egg. Ask a person who doesn’t have clean water or much food how they like their eggs some time.

    • Hmm. Perhaps we’re missing something but we don’t use that much water when boiling an ovoid. Our general preference is for a morning “Scribbler’s Scramble,” which uses NO water – but when we do boil it’s easy to recapture the water and re-use it as you suggest, the garden being a big benefactor or our catchment system.

    • Actually, I regularly water my plants with my excess water and teach my children to do the same. CA is a desert whether we are in a drought or not. Most food professionals are highly conscious of all issues surrounding food, its production and distribution. My time at Chez Panisse and working with school and community gardens is an important part of my foundation. But thanks for reminding our readers to do the same.

  2. We whipped up a mess of egg salad for guests this afternoon, sticking to the recipe except for non kosher salt – we’re not big salt users – and TOASTED sourdough french spears from Bordenaves. Have to say it was pretty incredible – a meal in itself. Enjoyed the end result!

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