Eggs which have been boiled until hardened throughout. To test if an egg is hard-boiled or not, spin it, then quickly grab it to stop it and release. If it is hard-boiled, it will stop spinning, if it is raw, it will start spinning again.

To hard-boil a standard chicken egg, stick it in a pot with enough water to cover it. Cover the pot and put it under high heat. Leave at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the water, and fill with room-temperature or cold water (known as scaring the eggs). When eggs are cooled, they may easily be cracked and shelled.

Here's the "Lucky 13" hard boiled egg recipe courtesy of Emeril. It has never let me down.

Place eggs in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover, and let sit for 11 more minutes. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Perfect hard-boiled eggs!

"If I were a pixelated action hero, hard boiled eggs would be my medi-kits."

There are many ways to hard boil an egg, of course. Discovering what method you prefer is a matter of practice.

I fill the bottom of a pot with eggs (the less space they have to rattle around, the less liable they are to break during boiling), shake some salt over them, and cover them with water. I try to use water that is the same temperature as the eggs. I don't want to shock cold eggshells with hot water, even if it might make them come to a boil faster... the whole point of the process is to keep that fragile shell intact.

I bring to a boil, let boil five minutes, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before pouring cold water over them. You can skip the setting time, but your eggs will have dents in them. I let them sit in the cold water for a while before handling them -- because my fingers are important to me.

There is also a method of hard boiling known as "hard cooked" eggs. This involves bringing the eggs to a boil, and immediately taking them off the heat to set (15-20 minutes or so). The advantage of this is that you spare the eggs the knock-and-tumble of the boiling stage, once again preventing breakage.

How to peel a hard boiled egg:

Supposedly, the fresher the egg, the more difficult it will be to peel. When an egg is difficult to peel, you end up with a frustrating mess of rubbery eggy bits clustered around a rather lonely-looking yolk. It is very sad. That said, fresher eggs are also tastier eggs, so we must thwart the evil anti-peeling freshness forces.

Tap your cooked egg firmly on a hard surface several times, rotating it so that you crack all sides. Then, hold the egg between your palms and roll it back and forth to loosen the shell. Voila! The shell should come right off. If you still have problems, peel the egg under running water. And if that doesn't work, you still have a nice (if somewhat battered) treat for the cat.

The following is strictly a matter of opinion. A properly boiled egg, when just cooked, should have a texture like soft gelatin, with a velvety yolk. It should melt in your mouth. If the egg is undercooked, the yolk may be a bit moist, but still very good. However, if the egg is overcooked, it will be hard or rubbery, and the yolk will be very dry with a greenish exterior. I actually prefer hard boiled eggs after refrigeration. A properly boiled egg, when eaten cold, should have a creamy texture. And that, my children, is a wonderful thing.

I suppose this plants me firmly in the midst of the protein faction... d'ohwell...

The conscientious cook seeking to prepare the perfect hard-boiled egg encounters two problems: an unattractive green ring around the yolk and difficulty of peeling the shell. We shall tackle these problems one at a time.

The Nasty Green Ring: Where It Comes From

Eggs are more than protein and fat: they contain minerals as well, specifically sulfur in the white (albumen) and iron in the yolk. When an egg is boiled for a length of time, these elements combine to produce an unattractive green ring around the yolk. The solution is to cook the eggs just long enough for the yolks to set up, but not so long as to produce an undesirable chemical reaction.

Aack! The Shell Is Sticking To The Egg

For ease of peeling, cooking authorities recommend using eggs 7 to 10 days old. Older eggs have a different pH from fresh eggs, which apparently affects how the shell clings to the cooked white. However, if you are planning a party, you may not have the foresight (I don't) to purchase eggs for hard boiling a week in advance. If older eggs are not available, hard-boiled eggs are made easier to peel by plunging them into an ice-water bath immediately after cooking.

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Place your eggs into a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Remove the eggs from the heat and let stand for a minimum of 13 minutes, but no more than 20 minutes. Drain the water and place the eggs into an ice water bath until they are completely cool. Refrigerate the eggs if you are not going to use them immediately.

Sources: FoodTV.com and MarthaStewart.com

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