5 Ingredients or Fewer

A Recipe for Tired Brains or How to Boil an Egg

May  5, 2020
2 Ratings
Photo by Stottey
  • Cook time 7 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

My brain feels like a piece of playdough that has been squished into a million different shapes and then abandoned somewhere underneath a sofa cushion. In other words, I don’t feel like writing something long and complicated. I want a break from my own head. I’m sure many of us do. I don’t see other people as often as some might - I’ve always been quite chill in my own company. But even so, it’s frightening, the thought that if I really, really needed to go and see someone - I would have to do something else instead.

I hate that anxiety hanging over me - I hate all the anxiety hanging over me. I just want to know what’s going to happen, to have assurances that “this is how it will go down”. But no one can give them to me, no one can make any clear, confident proclamations about what is happening right now.

So let’s have a recipe instead. I am not the best at writing recipes, but I figured I wanted to write something simple, loving and usable by everyone out there who, like me, has found that their little lego tower of problems just had a whole bunch of bricks added to it.

How to Boil an Egg

Yes, yes I know you all think this is the beginning of some joke but I promise you I am quite serious. It has taken me years to be able to competently boil an egg. I could never do it. I would make them too hard, too soft or have the shell stick terribly and destroy the egg trying to get it out. Or I would somehow crack the shell when the egg was in the water and little bits of white fug would fill the boiling pan, cheerfully swirling around in a mockery of my failure.

So today I will teach you how to boil an egg. —Stottey

What You'll Need
  • one egg
  1. Step the First: Boil water. You see, thou shalt not start the egg in cold water. My mum always starts her egg in cold water and I know loads of people that do. “Won’t it crack the shell if you put it straight into boiling water?” you say. Well, maybe. But this is all mostly superstition, let's be real, and I find that when I start the egg in boiling water, it is much less likely to stick to the shell. Note I say boiling. I want your water AGGRESSIVE I want that water to be swirling around like you have just insulted its mother. Be patient - this often takes longer than you think. Don’t put the egg in when it’s simmering, or when it looks hot or when you see the first bubble. I want that water to be truly, enthusiastically going mental in your saucepan.
  2. Step the Second: Add an egg. Now, some of you may be able to put the egg into the water with your hands. I find that I can sometimes do this but sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I end up dropping it and cracking it, or in a moment of manic whimsy I just let it go from slightly too high a height and it splashes back, endangering my precious fingers. So here is how you add the egg: grab a large spoon in one hand, the egg in the other, and, over the water (don’t try and carry the egg on the spoon to the pan - this, too, has resulted in disaster for me) place it onto the spoon and then into the water. Onto the spoon. Into the water. Gently. Like it’s, well, an egg. There we go. Well done.
  3. Step the Third: Set a timer. You must set a timer. Right now. Once the egg is in the water. If you don’t you will forget and you will definitely have no idea when to take it out. I promise you. You will momentarily remember the global pandemic and by the time you have been released from your anxiety spiral you will have no idea how much time has passed and all this work will have been for nought. How long do you set the timer for though? Much thought has been expounded on this matter. The truth is - it depends on your egg and it depends on you. I tend to go with seven minutes when working with your garden variety British Large Egg and aiming for mostly runny in the middle. However, I hear American eggs are smaller and I have no idea what you’re working with. Start with seven (?) minutes. Iterate. Perfection takes time.
  4. Step the Fourth: Contemplate consumption. There are so many ways you could eat this egg. Marinade it? Smush it? Decorate some noodles with it? It’s up to you. Go hog wild. Or just top it and dip bread in, it’s your life.
  5. Step the Fifth: Drain and cool. Pour out the water over the sink (not on the floor obviously, not that I've ever poured boiled egg water on the floor who would do such a thing?) and then run cold water over the egg until it’s cool to the touch or you remember that you’re cooling an egg in the sink and suddenly look up from your phone and turn the tap off. Let’s move on to…
  6. Step the Sixth: Peel the egg. You are somewhat on your own here my lovelies. I’m sorry. I have done my best to take you this far but every now and again we try and try to do all we can but when we begin to peel we realise it’s all for nought. So deep breaths everyone and let us begin. I tend to tap the egg on the side until I have eviscerated a small patch of shell, and work from there, peeling the egg over a bin and then rinsing off little bits of shell still left over the sink. If you - as I have experienced many, many times - find that your egg begins to look like the surface of the moon from where you have attempted to gouge loose the shell from the tender embrace of the white to no avail then stop. Breathe. Remember the existence of dippy eggs and soldiers and don’t bother and just scoop it out with a spoon. It also gives you a chance to use that egg cup you have for some reason even though you haven’t had a dippy egg for about twenty years.
  7. Step the Seventh: Eat the egg. Enjoy your egg however you enjoy eggs most. Happy cooking folks. Take care.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stottey
  • Tarra
  • Girlfromipanema

3 Reviews

Tarra April 16, 2023
You are so funny, thank you
Girlfromipanema May 5, 2020
I loved this.
Stottey May 5, 2020
Thank you! I’m glad :)