How to Cook a Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg
A perfectly soft-boiled egg cannot be overrated. It is an art and a science. You could always buy an electric egg cooker to take the guess work out of it, but countertop real estate is precious in my world, so I have arrived at a formula that puts a hot egg, with a firm white, and runny yolk on my table in six minutes, including buttered toast soldiers for dipping.
A perfect soft-boiled egg used to be called a three minute egg, and one of the reasons it eludes people is that the three minute rule comes from the days of smaller, home-raised eggs that could be kept at room temperature. Such eggs still exist, and if one happens to find its way into your kitchen, you should pet it, kiss it, slip it into boiling water and cook it for exactly three minutes. This formula is based on one refrigerated Grade A, large, supermarket egg, and addresses the problem of breakage that occurs if you introduce a cold eggshell to boiling water.
1. Fill a small saucepan with water, and set it on the stovetop on HIGH.
2. While the pan of water is boiling, place the cold egg in a bowl or cup, put it in the sink, and run warm-to-hot tap water over it. This brings the egg temperature up to something like room temp.
3. When the water boils, slip the egg into the pot gently and set the timer for four minutes. Toast and butter a slice of bread, cut it in strips and place it on a plate next to your cute eggcup.
4. When the timer goes, immediately remove egg from heat and run cool water over it for a few seconds to stop it cooking inside.
5. Transfer to egg cup, slice the cap off (decisively and ruthlessly), add salt and pepper, eat, and go forth to conquer your day.
You may find you need to adjust your timing up or down a minute, depending on a whole lot of variables between your egg, refrigerator, stovetop and mine. But once you have it, you have it, a comforting constant in a world of uncertainty and overcooked eggs.