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How do you make perfect hard-cooked eggs that can easily be peeled?

You might be surprised. Here are some miracle techniques.

We’ll start with steaming. In the April edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen assert that it isn’t the age of the eggs, after all, that causes the shell to stick like glue or peel straight off.

I’ll hold off on the science for now and just share their new favorite method:

Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Place a steamer basket inside, and carefully add refrigerator-cold eggs in a single layer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook eggs 13 minutes.

Shortly before eggs are done, combine 2 cups cold water and 2 cups ice cubes in a bowl. Using tongs or a spoon, transfer cooked eggs to ice bath. Let sit 15 minutes and then peel — or refrigerate to peel later.

The test kitchen got equally good peeling results from adding eggs to already-boiling water. I’m pretty sure this is what my mom did those many years ago. But somewhere along the line the culinary gods declared that you must start with cold water, and that method became the norm.

According to the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, starting in cold water actually gives the outermost proteins of the egg white more time to bond with the membrane that lines the shell. Exposing the eggs quickly to hot steam or boiling water “denatures” those proteins, causing them to shrink, and in turn causing the white to pull away from the membrane.

There’s your science.

There are several variations on the boiling-water method:

• Add eggs to boiling water. Cover and boil 15 minutes, then remove to bowl of ice water until cool.

• Add eggs to boiling water. Cover and boil six minutes, remove from heat and let sit 11 to 12 minutes. Drain off hot water and add cold water to the pot until both pot and water are cold.

Both of these methods, and the steaming, produced eggs that peeled with absolutely no problem.

And all of the eggs were free of that awful green on the outside of the yolk.

I probably liked the steaming method best.

For peeling multiple eggs in a hurry, Cook’s Illustrated, in the same article, suggests shaking the cooked eggs in a jar with water. They were able to peel six eggs in 41 seconds.

That’s impressive, but a few seconds here or there don’t matter to me. I’m just thrilled to know that I no longer have to plan ahead to have old eggs on hand. Spontaneous batch of deviled eggs? Coming right up!

Deviled (Stuffed) Eggs

Makes 8.

Note: From “How to Cook Everything,” by Mark Bittman.

• 4 hard-cooked eggs

• Salt to taste

• 2 tbsp. mayonnaise

• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, or to taste

• 1/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

• Paprika or minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Directions

Peel eggs and cut them in half the long way, and carefully remove the yolks.

Mash the yolks with salt, mayo, mustard and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasoning. Spoon filling back into the whites (or pipe the filling in with a pastry bag to make them look especially nice). Garnish and serve with paprika or parsley, or cover and chill, well wrapped, for up to a day before serving.

Anchovied Eggs: Substitute 1 tablespoon olive oil for the mayo; mash 2 or more minced anchovies with the yolks. Garnish with a piece of anchovy fillet and a couple of capers.

Herb-Stuffed Eggs: Substitute 1 tablespoon olive oil for the mayo. Add 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon drained and chopped capers (optional) and 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves or 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves. Garnish with parsley sprigs or small basil leaves.

Eggs Stuffed With Spinach: This makes enough stuffing for 8 whole eggs. Steam or parboil 6 to 8 ounces of trimmed spinach; drain, squeeze dry, and chop finely. Mash it with the egg yolks, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, a tiny grating of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning before stuffing the whites.

Nutrition information per half egg:

Calories 65 Fat 5 g Sodium 70 mg

Carbohydrates 0 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 0 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ medium-fat protein, ½ fat.

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Makes 12.

Note: From the Detroit Free Press.

• 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

• 1 ripe medium avocado

• 1 tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

• 2 to 4 tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise

• 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish

• 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced, optional

• 1 tbsp. chopped chives or green onion

• Regular or smoked paprika for garnish

Directions

Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half. Remove the yolks and place them in a bowl. Place the whites on a serving platter.

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh and place in the bowl with the yolks. Roughly mash with a fork. Sprinkle with lime juice and salt. Stir in enough mayonnaise to make a barely smooth consistency. Stir in the chopped cilantro, jalapeño if desired and the chives. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Scoop a generous spoonful of the avocado mixture into the hollow center of each egg white. Top with a small sprig of fresh cilantro or some additional chopped chives.

Nutrition information per half egg:

Calories 64 Fat 5 g Sodium 150 mg

Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 0 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ medium-fat protein, ½ fat.

Pesto-Stuffed Eggs

Makes 24.

Note: This uses such a small amount of pesto that, unless you have your own at your fingertips, buy a good-quality version at the store, where it’s usually found in the refrigerated section. Add more or less pesto to suit your taste. If you’re bringing these to a picnic, keep them in a cooler; mini-muffin tins work well for transporting the eggs. From Lee Svitak Dean.

• 12 hard-cooked eggs

• 6 tbsp. mayonnaise

• About 2 tbsp. pesto (see Note)

• Salt and white pepper

Directions

Peel eggs and slice in half lengthwise; empty yolks into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add mayo and pesto; mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill egg whites with yolk mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

Nutrition information per half egg:

Calories 70 Fat 6 g Sodium 65 mg

Carbohydrates 0 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 0 g

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ medium-fat protein, ½ fat.