I overheard two older ladies talking about making deviled eggs, the other day, and one of them commented: “Hard-boiled eggs were so much easier to peel when I was young, I don’t know what’s happened to them!”
It was one of those wonderful, if rare, moments where I actually know the answer to something, in this case due to some inane piece of cooking trivia I learned growing up in restaurant kitchens.
There are a zillion tips out there for how to make a hard-boiled egg easier to peel (and I’m sure I’ll get most of them in the comments to this post), but far fewer on why eggs are so hard to peel in the first place, or why it’s become more difficult.
You can blame those rage-enducing egg-peeling moments (is it just me?) on advances in food processing and delivery time in the last four decades. The store-bought eggs you ate growing up, could take up to two weeks to get from chicken-butt to shelf.
These days, that same egg could be less than 36 hours old.
(Side note: I spoke to an employee at my local Winco, who informed me that all SIX floor-to-ceiling coolers of fresh eggs have to be completely re-stocked every 8 hours!)
Now, in most fresh foods, this is great news, and it’s great news if you’re preparing your eggs in any other fashion. For easy-peel eggs, however, it’s a huge disadvantage.
In fresh eggs (used within a week from laying), the albumen (egg white) tends to stick to the inner shell membrane due to the less acidic environment of the egg.
As an egg sits in the cooler for several days, the pH of the white albumen increases and the hard cooked eggs become much easier to peel. The egg white also shrinks slightly, so the air space between the eggshell and the membrane grows larger, resulting in boiled eggs that are easier to peel.
That whole pH thing, btw, is why the old yarn about using a half-teaspoon of baking soda really does work. Adding baking soda to the water to raise its pH level, effectively dissolving the gorilla-glue that God uses to attach the white to the shell.
BTW, you probably won’t hear phrases like “the pH of the white albumen” or “less acidic environment” in the commercial kitchen…
Someone just yells, “Hey a**-hole, use the eggs at the back of the f’in’ walk-in next time!”
Welcome to my childhood. 😉
For ideal peeling, use eggs that are 7-10 days old. To be safe, buy your eggs a week before you plan to boil them, label the carton “For Boiling”, and stick them in the back of the fridge.
Using a (clean) needle to poke a tiny hole in the fat end of the egg also helps, allowing a small amount of steam between the egg and shell, separating the two. That’s how our grandma’s did it.
I grew up a grub-scout, and we cooked a LOT of foil-pouch dinners over campfires. We called them “Hobo Packs” back then (way before anyone had heard of “political correctness” lol)
Nowadays, I make some up and freeze them before leaving for camping trips, to get a delicious dinner, with no clean up!
I have an exhaustive list of foil-pouch recipes and idea in the “MY KITCHEN Cookbook“, but here’s a couple of tips we teach the kid’s before we let them loose on the ingredients table:
One thing I see done a lot, when people are assembling foil-pouch meals, is that they want to place the meat on the bottom, and pile their veggies over that. While they probably think that this will ensure that the meat cooks faster, and thoroughly, it’s actually the opposite of how you want to build your pouch, and will only dry out and/or burn the meat.
The juiciest ingredients need to be placed closest to the foil (tomatoes are best), as they will be the least damaged if burnt, then ingredients with less moisture content on top of those, then your seasoning, and LASTLY the meat (pre-seasoned with salt and pepper.) Top with a little butter or olive oil, and close it up.
The reason for this layering: Fats/oils from the meat drips down to flavor the veggies, while the tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc., contain water, which mixes with all those natural juices, and steams the meat into tenderness. That excess moisture also helps to keep your veggies from drying out.
I also like to wrap the pouch, seam side down, in a second piece of foil, to help prevent leaking and scorching.
Personally, I like to brush a thin layer of bacon-fat, or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) on the foil before I add my veggies.
It adds a little more flavor, and also helps prevent your veggies from sticking to the foil.
Then start cooking with the outer seam down. Try it and see what you think!
Home Chef Note: Don’t use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for foil-pouch cooking…just don’t do it.
They dry out too easily in this form of cooking, and they don’t bring any fat or flavor to the party.
Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs and hindquarter work great, though. Slice along both sides of the bones (but don’t remove them) before seasoning and cooking.
This not only gets more flavor into the meat, but it helps the meat cook faster, and more evenly!
Have any foil-pouch cooking questions? Let me know!
Barbeque is not just a method of cooking food– it’s an experience. It’s a culture, a link to our past, a tribute to the resourcefulness of our forbearers, and a reminder of times both great and terrible.
It’s about the age-old mainstays of good food, good friends, and good times. It’s rugged but romantic.
It’s charcoal and chatter.
Here are my most popular dishes, tips, and techniques from nearly four-decades of cooking in, over, and with fire and smoke.
If you’re looking for great recipes and insights for taking your culinary skills to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. From bacon weaves, to melt-in-you-mouth brisket, to whole roast pigs…if you can cook it, low and slow, in sweet, sweet smoke…
I’ll show you how.
Welcome to the fire, Home Chefs!
GRILLING: A Home Chef’s Guide
Grilling. It’s the most primitive of all the cooking methods. Picture our ancient ancestors spearing chunks of raw meat on sticks and gathering around a communal fire to cook their meal.
What would summer be without the sights, and sounds, and smells of meat searing to perfection over glowing coals? The laughter of friends and family, and the sharing of a delicious, flame-kissed meal?
“Grilling: A Home Chef’s Guide” includes dozens of Chef-tested, fully-illustrated recipes, tricks, techniques, and resources for grilling just about anything you can cook over fire!
I guarantee that you will see an instant, and significant improvement in your outdoor cooking! No more wiener flambé, carbonized chicken, or particle-board steaks.
Clear your calendar, strap on your apron, you’re about to become the grilling-god of your family!
There are plenty of cookbooks out there, but a Home Chef’s Guide wants more than just the instructions on how to make single dish a single way.
It means continuing you kitchen education, learning the professional-level tips, tricks, and techniques the pro’s use to become a better cook…to understand cooking, healthy real-food cooking, it means advancing your culinary skills until recipes are no longer really necessary.
First there were 12, then there were three, and then…after 3 rounds of tie-votes (Gahh!) we have a winner!
Now to send it to my graphic artist (she’ll make the sub-title bigger, by the way.)
Looking at about 30 days to release date!
Here’s a little preview recipe…
Carolina Gold Baby Back Ribs
Now, mustard barbecue sauces are completely different than your regular red sauces, obviously, but not just due to the mustard. They’re also much, much tangier, especially the Carolina ones, than the average joe sauces, too.
1 rack baby back pork ribs, (rinse, pat dry, remove sinew from back)
1/2 Cup Dry Rub
South Carolina Gold Sauce (see below)
Place a large sheet of foil, several inches longer than the ribs at each end, onto working surface dull side-up. Spray center with non stick spray. Place ribs, meat side-up, onto foil. Coat with a little over half of the dry rub, coating well.
Turn ribs over, making sure they are in the center, and coat bone side with rest of rub. Bring long-edged sides of foil up to meet and carefully roll down to meet the top of the ribs.
Fold ends of foil inward like an envelope and roll up. It should be a nice closed package touching the meat. Just be careful not to tear the foil. You want it sealed closed.
Place rib package onto foil-lined baking sheet folded side-up (meat side-down). Let rest and preheat smoker.
Pop into preheated 300º F smoker for 2½ hours.
Remove ribs from foil, coat well with 1/2 of the sauce. Increase smoker temp to 350º F.
When smoker reaches 350, return the ribs, uncovered, and smoke for 5 minutes, bone up.. Flip the ribs over, and baste with rest of sauce. Smoke for 5 minutes longer.
Remove from smoker and let rest at least 10 minutes.
Slice into serving-sized pieces and serve hot with any extra sauce if desired.
South Carolina Gold Sauce
½ Gal. yellow mustard ½ Gal. cider vinegar
1 C light brown sugar 2 Tbsp. sea salt
¼ C Worcestershire 2 Tbsp. black pepper
¼ C hot sauce (to taste)
For each of these recipes, combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.
Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.
This rich, creamy French soup was a big hit at our recent Le Couteaux Trois pop-up restaurant, “Julia Child’s Paris.”
A little history:
France was beset with famine following the Seven Year War (1756-1763).
Native son Antoine Auguste Parmentier, who had been fed the commonly regarded as poisonous “potato root” in a German prison-of-war camp, returned to France to find his countrymen starving.
He set up potato soup kitchens throughout Paris to assist the poor.
Ultimately, Louis XVI recognized his work by saying, “France will thank you some day for having found bread for the poor.” In fact, he is best honored by the pleasure his country take in digesting Potage Parmentier.
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1lb russets peeled & roughly chopped
3 large leeks (1lb), thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt, to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup minced parsley or chives OR 1/3 cup decorative micro-greens (opt)
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the leek and potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
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Add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Blend soup until smooth, either using an immersion blender, egg beater, or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting go easy, but give it a little flavor) and lemon juice.
Blend again and return to pot to keep warm.
Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and a healthy sprinkling of minced parsley or microgreens (opt.).
I recently had a Facebook friend ask if I could come up with some “soft diet” recipes for a friend of hers who is battling cancer. Recipes that actually taste good, were high in calories, and avoided things that warriors need to avoid (grease, excess salt, spiciness, etc.).
I’ve cooked for, and modified, recipes for a number of close friends and cancer warriors over the years and, of course, I’m happy to do so again.
So, I just wanted to let you know that I’m creating a new “Cancer Warrior Recipes” category (in the right-hand column) and will begin adding 2-3 recipes a week to that folder.
Please note: There will be no “miracle shake to cure cancer” or Amazonian rain-forest concoctions, or any of that crap here. Just healthy, easy to prepare, real-food recipes that avoid the ingredients that typically need to be avoided, and help keep warriors strong.
The first recipe will be up in a few minutes.
When I have 40-50 recipes in that folder, I’ll go ahead and combine them into a single PDF “eCookbook”, that folks can download for free, from this page.
If you’re interested in these recipes, or want to know when the finished PDF is ready, please be sure to follow me, by entering your email address in the box, at the top of the right-hand column.
If you have any recipe suggestions that fit this category, any requests for specific recipes, or want modifications of old favorites, I’d love to hear them!
Writing and testing recipes is cheaper than therapy. 😉
Also, if you, or a warrior you care about, has more restrictive needs than the recipes you see here, PLEASE contact me (below)…and I’ll make modifications for them, if I can.