I confess I am not a fan of Julia Child, as much as I want to love her.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate what she did for French cooking in America, it’s just that I don’t like her recipes that much, a fact I discovered in watching Jacques Pepin and Julia face off in their PBS cooking series.  I am a Jacques fan.

Julia recommends that to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, the water should cover the eggs by 1 inch, so use a tall pan, and lay the eggs in the pan.  Set over high heat and bring just to the boil; remove from heat, cover the pan, and let sit exactly 17 minutes.  When the time is up, transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice cubes and water.  Chill for 2 minutes while bringing the cooking water to the boil again.  (This 2 minute chilling shrinks the body of the egg from the shell.)  Transfer the eggs (6 at a time only) to the boiling water, bring to the boil again, and let boil for 10 seconds – this expands the shell from the egg.   Remove eggs, and place back into the ice water.

 But, we follow Jacques method, which is:

Use a sharp object like a sewing needle or a thumb tack to puncture a hole in the round end of the egg, where the air chamber is. It releases pressure inside of the egg, so don’t worry, the shell won’t crack.  Boil a pot of water.  Leave the eggs out while the water starts to boil, as you want them at room temperature.

Gently lower the eggs in a very gently boiling pot of water and let return to a boil for 10 minutes. They should not boil at too high a temperature, otherwise the egg white will be tough, and the inside green and rubbery, so just a slow simmer will do.Then submerse immediately in cold water.

After the eggs have simmered, pour out the hot liquid, and shake the pan to crackle the shells if you are serving immediately.

Next submerge the eggs in an ice water bath. Leave the eggs in the cold bath for 15 minutes, enough time to allow the eggs to cool and the stinky sulfur inside the eggs to dissipate into the ice water.

Peel the egg under a stream of water. This makes it easier to peel away the egg’s thin outer membrane.

Jacques explains that as eggs get older, their air chamber gets larger. To get a sense of the age of an egg, submerge it in water. Older eggs will float, while fresh ones will sink.  We get our eggs at the polo farm during the summer months, which has a chicken coop next to the barn.  Sometimes we have to get the chickens off of our saddles in the barn, as they let them wander during the day.  But sometimes the eggs are too fresh and difficult to peel. The fresher the eggs, the harder it will be to peel them because the white membrane is just not mature enough. Hard boiling farm fresh eggs will invariably lead to eggs that are difficult to peel.   The best eggs for boiling are older eggs, not fresh ones.  We have found this to be very true with our farm fresh eggs.  Two to three weeks is necessary, the average time before you see them in the grocer, before you can even think about boiling them for hard-boiled eggs.