20 May 2010

The Making of... Hard Boiled Eggs (and an initial review of Induction, to boot)

One of the appliances that I have wanted to write about, but have purposefully held off on, is my Miele Induction cooktop (KM5753). I am the meticulous sort who actually enjoys reading the manual. I have never, however, read the Miele induction cooktop manual. This is a major confession, people!

Never having read the manual, I consequently felt unqualified to offer an informed opinion. For your benefit (ok, really mine), I decided to go easy on myself for a change, and just Write a Post. This might not be coming from the angle of a super-expert-user, but it's still interesting.

Onward -- the real topic at hand -- hard-boiled eggs!

I make textbook-perfect hard-boiled eggs. They are SOO easy, and I skip all of the tricks and "guaranteed" methods that you can find on the Internet or handed down from previous generations for their perfect HB eggs. I do not prick a hole in the end of the egg. I don't add salt. I don't add vinegar. I don't wash my eggs in baking soda first. I use the Cook's Illustrated method. The yolks come out perfect (no gray, no green, no crumbles), the white is tender, and the shells are easy to peel. Here it is:

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
1) put eggs in a pot with cold water (level should be 1" to 2" higher than the eggs)
2) turn the heat to high
3) when the water boils, remove pot from heat, add a lid, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
4) meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Use a LOT of ice (at least a tray's worth).
5) when your 10 minute timer goes off, use slotted spoon to transfer the hot eggs to the ice water
6) Let sit for 5 minutes or more.

Note, it is important to use older eggs for maximum peel-ability. Let farm-fresh eggs age for at least two weeks. Supermarket eggs are typically well old enough by the time they hit the store.

This recipe works like magic... EXCEPT... if you have an induction cooktop.


An induction cooktop gets water boiling SO much more quickly than a regular cooktop, that your eggs do not spend enough time in hot water to get the yolk fully cooked. This is, after all, part of the definition of a hard boiled egg. (If you don't want the yolk fully cooked, then lookup medium- or soft-boiled eggs.)

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs, Modified for Induction
1) put eggs in a pot with cold water (level should be 1" to 2" higher than the eggs)
2) set the heat to high
3) when the water boils, let the eggs boil for two full minutes
4) remove pot from heat, add a lid, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
5) meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Use a LOT of ice (at least a tray's worth).
6) when your 10 minute timer goes off, use slotted spoon to transfer the hot eggs to the ice water
7) Let sit for 5 minutes or more.

This is the first recipe I have had to adapt for induction. Mostly, the primary benefits I've had in cooking with induction have been saving time. I have had my water boil more quickly to cook pasta, or, I have been able to brown my meats or heat up oil more quickly. The time saved is nice, but nothing to shout about from rooftops. Probably the area where I am most appreciative of time saved, is for sauteing diced onions for dinner. It's really nice to turn on the heat and be ready to go in less than a minute.

Another nice thing about induction is the way that the heat stays contained to pot (plus some minor residual heat on the hob if we wanted to be particular). Translation: the cooktop surface stays cool. Notice in the photo above that I have set my ice water bowl directly next to my pot of eggs. I have also put cookbooks, ingredients, and other items on the cooktop while one hob is on and cooking. The fact that the unused induction cooktop can double as working counter space is a huge benefit for small kitchens!

Some websites talk about how the reduced venting requirements of induction are another benefit. I find that to be negligible, honestly. Yeah, I don't need to vent gas fumes. My actual cooking, however, throws off enough fumes, odors, grease, and heat, and that is what really drives my ventilation requirements. Anyone who does reasonable amounts of cooking should have their ventilation requirements driven more so by their typical foods and cooking methods, and less so by their cooktop.

A couple minor frustrations with induction, for me: first, I have only 9 power levels on my cooktop (or at least I think I have only 9 -- gotta read that manual). Sometimes I have trouble getting an exactly perfect big-slow-rising-bubble simmer (such as I want when I am making chicken stock). Level 6 is too high (active happy bubbles), Level 5 is too low (no bubbles). I go with Level 6.

Second, different induction-capable pans perform differently on my cooktop. I have two 8qt stockpots that seem very similar. The one with the smaller but thicker base boils water MUCH faster than the one with the wider but thinner base. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the smaller/thicker base pot is more $$ than then wider/thinner base pot.) At first I wondered why my induction cooktop did not boil as quickly as the Induction Gods had promised me. After more usage, however, I realized that my other pots DID boil quite quickly.

The biggest benefit of induction for me thus far, honestly, is the fact that it is so easy to keep clean. It is WAY easier to keep clean on a daily or weekly basis than my old gas cooktop. Most stuff scrubs right off the induction cooktop with wet microfiber cloths, and the occasional razor/scraper takes care of the rest. I actually have never used ANY cleaner on my cooktop (not even gentle dishsoap) and a whole year later, it looks pristine (if I want it to). My gas cooktop always had gunk near the flames and residual grease on the cast iron burners. Spillovers were a real pain to clean.

Summary: Induction, thumbs up. Now, if you'll excuse me, there is a perfect hard boiled egg calling my name!


Christie said...

Gotta love those folks at Cook's. Hooray for hard-boiled eggs and not reading manuals!

Julie Warner @warnersstellian said...

I've never even considered that recipes would have to be modified for induction. That's something I associated more with convection cooking. Bravo, for perfecting the hard boiled egg :)

mom2reese said...

Funny, this is more or less how my mom taught me how to boil an egg, minus the ice bath (cold water instead of ice bath). Boiled eggs is one of the few proteins Reese likes, so we are regular egg boilers, lol.

This is also more or less the method my mom taught me on how to boil a chicken. Lots of vaguery though (bring to a boil, let it boil "a little while," turn off the burner, and put a lid on it until the water cools down at some point... maybe you want to throw some salt in, or some ginger... ahh, gotta love precise "mom" recipes!). I'd be interested to see the CI instructions.

In any case, I love these posts, and I want an induction cooktop!!

Rachele said...

@Julie - This is the only recipe I've had to change. It's unique from the other things I cook in that the cooking time, to the minute, really matters. Time does matter for other things like pasta, but in those cases you are boiling the water first, then adding your food.

@m2r - the instructions that I wrote above (the first set), are the CI instructions. I'm glad you want induction! I'm trying to decide which appliance or kitchen feature should be next on my hit list.

Paul Anater said...

You wrote a new post! Brava! It never occurred to me that how to make hard cooked eggs would have to be adjusted for induction. That's a good pointer to know.

Rachele said...

@Paul - Just trying to post enough so I earn a spot in your rss reader. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for writing this!!! I got my induction cooktop almost a year ago. Hard-boiled eggs were a fairly regular occurance in my house until I tried it for the first time on the induction cooktop. I failed twice, and couldn't find anything about it on the internet. We have not had hardboiled eggs since before we started remodelling our kitchen a year ago. Thanks to you, we eat like kings once again ;)

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