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The Boston Globe

Magazine

Food Issue: Rise and Dine

Recipes for the perfect eggs

A breakfast-basics cheat sheet, with hints, tips, and tricks for how to boil an egg — or scramble, poach, and more.

Jim Scherer

NOTE: All of these recipes were developed with large eggs. Extra-large may require a little more cooking time, medium a little less.

Jim Scherer

SCRAMBLED EGGS

Serves 4

Err on the side of a smaller pan for scrambled eggs — a little extra depth aids in making big, soft curds.

8 eggs

¼ cup milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until uniform. In a small nonstick skillet or seasoned cast-iron pan, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling to coat pan. When butter stops foaming, add the egg mixture and cook, without stirring, for 20 seconds. With a flexible spatula, scrape along the bottom and sides of the skillet and fold the eggs in large strokes, constantly, until clumped in large curds and just slightly wet, about 3 minutes and 15 seconds longer. Transfer eggs to plates and serve.

Continue reading below

TIP Choose your dairy for scrambled eggs based on how rich you like them.

Jim Scherer

POACHED EGGS

Serves 4

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

8 eggs, cold

Fill a medium straight-sided saute pan about three-quarters of the way with water, set over high heat, and bring to a bare simmer (small bubbles will cover the bottom of the pan and the surface will be steamy). Add the vinegar and the salt, stir gently, and lower the heat to maintain the water just short of a simmer. Crack an egg into a small teacup. Lower the rim of the teacup into the water, allowing some water into the cup. Hold it in place, without pouring out the egg, until the egg white begins to turn opaque, about 30 seconds, and then gently pour the egg into the pan. Working clockwise around the pan, add the remaining eggs in the same fashion. If eggs settle on pan bottom, carefully slip a thin-bladed spatula under them to loosen. Poach until the whites are set and the yolks are warm and slightly thickened, but still liquid, about 4 minutes (the first egg should be done within about a minute of adding the last). With a slotted spoon and working clockwise again, remove the eggs to a paper towel-lined plate and carefully blot dry with more paper towels. Trim the whites for a neater appearance, if desired, and serve.

TIP For poaching, use eggs that are straight-from-the-fridge cold.

Jim Scherer

BAKED EGGS / (EGGS EN COCOTTE)

Serves 4

Though it’s certainly possible to bake eggs without the water bath, they cook more evenly this way.

2 tablespoons butter, softened

4 eggs

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

With the rack in the middle, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter 4 5-ounce ramekins with 1½ teaspoons for each. Break an egg into each ramekin, carefully pour 1 tablespoon cream around each egg, and sprinkle each with salt and pepper to taste. Place the ramekins in a baking dish, place the dish on the oven rack, and carefully pour hot water into the dish until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake until whites are set and the yolks are thickened, 12 to 17 minutes, depending on how well done you like your eggs. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and serve.

TIP Spoon eggs from cups and serve on dressed greens as a first course.

Jim Scherer

SUNNY SIDE UP FRIED EGGS

Serves 2

4 eggs

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

Break 2 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or cups and set aside. Set a 10-inch nonstick or seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until hot but not blazing, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and, while it melts, swirl the pan to coat the bottom. When foaming subsides, add the eggs all at once, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes for runny yolks or 5 minutes for yolks that are a little thicker and slightly firm on the bottom. Use a large nonstick spatula to lift onto plates and serve.

TIP Cracking eggs into a bowl (not the pan) lowers your odds of breaking the yolks.

Variations

OVER EASY FRIED EGGS

Follow the directions for Sunny Side Up Fried Eggs, cooking for 4 minutes. Then gently flip the eggs (you don’t want to break the yolks) and continue cooking, undisturbed, for 35 to 40 seconds. Serve.

OLIVE OIL FRIED EGGS

Follow the directions for Sunny Side Up Fried Eggs, substituting 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for the butter.

Jim Scherer

SOFT-BOILED EGGS

Makes 8

8 eggs

In a medium saucepan, place the eggs in a single layer and cover with cool water by about 1 inch. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring just barely to a boil. As soon as the first bubbles break the surface of the water, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and rest the eggs for 3 minutes. Remove from the water, dry, and serve.

TIP begin peeling at the wide end, where there’s usually an air pocket.

Variation

HARD-COOKED EGGS

Follow the directions for Soft-Boiled Eggs, but leave the eggs in the hot water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water and set aside. Drain the hot water from the saucepan, sharply shake the pan back and forth to crack the shells all over, and place the eggs in the ice water to stop the cooking. Rest the eggs in the ice water until they are no longer warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Remove from the water and peel the eggs. Dry and serve.

Adam Ried writes the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column. E-mail him at cooking@globe.com.

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