One of my favorite breakfasts is a simple soft-boiled egg or two served with thick, crusty buttered bread. Only backyard eggs will fit the bill. The soft-boiled egg leaves no distraction, so the egg itself must be packed with rich flavor. Even organic, free-range eggs from the story just don’t compare.

I am always amazed at how many folks don’t know how to properly boil an egg. If there is green on the outside of the yolk, you over did it. So let’s have a quick chat about the best way to boil an egg, and specifically how to soft-boil an egg. This dates back to my days of living as a bohemian in Barcelona, where an Argentinian roommate taught me how to properly boil an egg. Now THAT is super-vintage-Renee…

This is almost too set for a soft-boiled egg, but you can see it is still a bit runny in the yolk

Slightly over-cooked for “soft-boiled”. The white should be firm, but the yolk should be runnier.

First, what is soft-boiled? My preference is for a soft-boiled egg that is semi-set. There is still some runny yolk to slop up with bread, but the yolk isn’t totally runny. It may take you a few tries to get it perfect since the definition of semi-set varies from one person to another.

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clean-eggsStep 1: Start with clean washed eggs at room temperature. Place them in a saucepan. Fill with cold water. Set on the stove and turn the burn to high.

Timing starts when the eggs are boiling, not when the stove is turning on

Timing starts when the eggs are boiling, not when the stove is turning on

Step 2: When the water comes to a boil, start keeping track of time. For a chicken egg, I boil it for four minutes. For a duck egg, boil for six minutes. Add 1 tsp of baking powder if you are cooking up fresh eggs to ensure the whites don’t stick to the shell.

Water is boiling = start counting the minutes!

Water is boiling = start counting the minutes!

While you wait for Step 2: Toast some bread while the water boils and slather on good quality butter. Grab the salt and pepper shaker – all the seasoning you should need.

Getting bread ready - a simple accompaniment to a deliciously simple protein

Getting bread ready – a simple accompaniment to a deliciously simple protein

Step 3: Immediately remove the burner from the stove, place in sink and start running cold water into the saucepan. This cools down the eggs and stops them from further cooking. Do this for a couple minutes until they are no longer hot to touch.

Run cold tap water over the eggs as soon as the time is up to cool them quickly

Run cold tap water over the eggs as soon as the time is up to cool them quickly

Step4: EAT! Use the back of a spoon to crack the top of the egg, then start scooping out the delicious egg onto your toast. Close your eyes, take a bite and enjoy the simple pleasure of starting your day with a moment of delicious calm.

Sweet piece of heaven

Sweet piece of heaven

Note: Everyone’s stove is a little different. Mine is old and temperamental, so you may need to adjust your cooking time by 1-2 minutes. Trial and error will be your guide, but hopefully these general instructions get you started in the art of cooking the perfect egg.

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