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Celebrity chef has sure method for soft-boiled eggs

By Karen Bjornland
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On a snowy night in February, the wacky and witty Alton Brown whipped up his “Edible Inevitable” show for a crowd at Proctors. Now, eight weeks later, another TV cooking show guy, Christopher Kimball, is coming to Albany’s Palace Theatre.

If you haven’t heard of him, Kimball is the serious guy with the bow tie and red apron on “America’s Test Kitchen,” which airs locally at 1 p.m. Saturday on WMHT-TV. And like Brown, he’s really into the science of cooking.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, Kimball, the founder of Cooks Illustrated magazine, will give the Capital Region audience an inside look at the PBS show.

Tickets are $35 and $45. If you want to meet the 62-year-old Westchester County native after the show, a VIP ticket is $85.

I discovered Kimball’s show one day this winter while lying on the couch nursing a cold and flipping through TV channels.

It was the “Three Ways with Eggs” episode, and it opened with a lesson on how to make a soft-boiled egg.

I was intrigued. I hadn’t enjoyed such an egg in many years.

Childhood breakfast

When I was young, my Norwegian father loved to spoon up soft-boiled eggs on Sunday morning.
As I remember, they were enthroned not in boring white egg cups but in dainty stemmed brandy glasses, as if they were a magical breakfast for a princess.

Tap, tap, tap. Little fingers learned to crack the rounded top of the egg with a knife, gently lift off this cap and reveal the orange-yellow insides, which were then anointed with butter, pepper and salt.

Little brother liked playing with the empty shells more than eating the eggs. He was a Sugar Pops kid.

I don’t think people eat soft-boiled eggs anymore. Maybe they are scared of salmonella and cholesterol. Maybe this kind of breakfast has just fallen out of fashion.

Now I won’t jump on my egg carton and cluck about the benefits of eggs. Let’s just say I worry about my sister-in-law, who scrambles the whites and throws out the yolks, the part of the egg that is jam-packed with brain-building nutrients.

On the show, test cook Julia Collin Davison told Kimball about experimenting with 1,000 eggs before coming up with a foolproof technique for cooking an egg until the whites are tender-firm and the yolk is warm and fluid.

Secret of success


The secret is to use a small amount of water, she said. Place four large, cold eggs in a pan of boiling water, but only a half-inch. Cover and steam/simmer for six-and-a-half minutes, using a timer.

Remove immediately, run quickly under cool water, then serve in egg cups.

The day after I watched the show, I dragged out some dusty porcelain egg cups that I bought years ago in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and followed her instructions. I like a yolk that’s semi-firm, so I cooked my egg for seven minutes, using my cellphone timer, and it came out perfectly.

Want to make your own soft-boiled egg?

Go to www.americastestkitchen.com and watch a six-minute video of the Jan. 26 show.

Oh, I almost forgot that this is the 21st century, the age of caution and lawsuits.

Because of the possibility of salmonella, soft-boiled eggs are not recommended for very young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

“In & Out of the Kitchen,” a wide-ranging column about cooking, eating and buying food, is written by Gazette staffers. You can reach us at features@dailygazette.net.

 
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