Using a pressure cooker to hard boil young hen eggs

HARD BOILING YOUNG HEN EGGS

Hard-boiled fresh eggs can be hard to peel but eggs laid by young hens are almost impossible. This year I had to replace my entire flock. It was especially frustrating to discover that even when the fresh, young hen eggs were left for 7 rather than the normal 3 days before hard-boiling, they were still impossible to peel.

An egg has an inner and outer shell membrane. Since the egg shell is permeable, as the egg ages, carbon dioxide and moisture are lost through the shell. This causes the two membranes to separate and the air sac to expand. As a result, the older the egg is, the easier it is to peel. 

My normal method of hard boiling eggs was to place them in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. The cooking time depends on egg size. I wanted a quick method that would ensure that relatively fresh eggs could be hard boiled and easily peeled. My Internet search lead me to the prairie homestead page. Although they were not talking about the problems of hard-boiling young hen eggs, they did mention the idea of using a pressure cooker. I am a huge fan of pressure cookers and believe that no kitchen should be without one. I have a number of different sized cookers and use them all the time to make soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes in a fraction of the time. They can even be used to can tomatoes and other vegetables.

 

For the experiment, I chose four eggs that had been laid on consecutive days. The egg on the right labelled 1 day old was laid on the same day, the 2-day old one the day before, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put 1 cup (250ml) of water in a pressure cooker and bring it to the boil.

Place the eggs on a steamer and lower it into the pan.

Close the pressure cooker lid and bring it up to full power. Turn down the heat and leave it for 5 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, if your pressure cooker has a quick release mechanism, quickly release the pressure by placing the pan under the running cold tap. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water, running and change the water until the eggs are completely cool.

RESULTS:

I then peeled the eggs and these are shown in the photo below. The results are conclusive and show how the eggs are easy to peel, and even the freshest egg could be peeled with care.

 

Peeling hard-boiled eggs

Peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

peeling hard-boiled eggs using ice

Peeling hard-boiled eggs in ice

 

An eggshell is permeable to air and water. A newly laid egg is covered by a natural coating called the bloom. This prevents loss of moisture from the egg and bacteria getting in. In my opinion, it is better to take advantage of this and not wash the eggs. The eggs are protected naturally and so do not need to be kept in the fridge. You can then wash the eggs just before you use them.

There are two membranes inside the shell: the outer shell membrane which adheres to the eggshell and the inner shell membrane surrounding the egg white and yolk. As time goes by, air enters the egg through the pores and fills the gap between the two membranes and the egg cell expands. It is this gap between the two membranes which affects how easy it is to peel a hard-boiled egg.

I’ve read that in order to peel very fresh eggs, it helps to immerse them in cold water and ice cubes so I thought I would give it a try to see if it helps. For the purpose of the “eggsperiment” I used 15 eggs of varying sizes and laid between 0 and 3 days ago (0 being a couple of hours previously).

The eggs were cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes. Cold water was then run over them and they were they plunged into the iced cold water. I left them for 45 minutes.

I found that eggs laid the same or the previous day were very difficult to peel. Eggs that were two days old were OK. Eggs which were three days old or more were good. I also found that putting the eggs in ice made no difference whatsoever and is not worth doing.

 

Scrambled eggs with garlic sprouts and oyster mushrooms

huevos2

This is the perfect recipe to make now that the young garlic sprouts are in season but can be made at any time substituting spring onions at other times of the year.

INGREDIENTS:
2 eggs per person, beaten
garlic sprouts, chopped
250g oyster mushrooms, cut into strips
olive oil
butter
salt and pepper

METHOD:
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and fry the garlic sprouts until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, cover and turn down the heat and continue to fry until they are soft and most of the juice has evaporated.

Add a knob of butter to the pan and pour over the eggs. Stir with a spatula until the eggs are cooked.

Serve with rosti potatoes or fried jacket potatoes.

huevos1

 

 

Leek, mushroom and goat’s cheese quiche

leek, mushroom and goat's cheese quiche with olive oil pastryI was really excited to find this recipe for pastry made with olive oil and couldn’t wait to try it. I was really pleased with the results: it was easy to make and came out beautifully crisp.
We used a deep dish, 28cm in diameter. A smooth surface works better than a fluted one as it makes it easier to spread the pastry out in the dish. The secret is not to leave any holes and get the sides as high as possible.

INGREDIENTS:
QUICHE MIXTURE:
4 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced
250g mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 handfuls grated hard goat’s cheese or strong cheddar
salt and pepper
4 large eggs
150ml milk
100ml cream
olive oil

OLIVE OIL PASTRY:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

METHOD:
Heat the oven to 180ºC
Heat some oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and gently fry until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook gently until the mushrooms are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the milk, cream and cheese and mix well.

To make the pastry, mix the flour and salt in a bowl with a fork. In another bowl, beat the oil and water together until thick. Pour into the flour and mix well with a fork. Press into the pie dish, making sure that there are no holes and that the pastry is evenly spread out, with not too much in the edges.

Prick the base with a fork and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Stir the leeks and mushrooms into the egg mixture. Stir in the cheese but keep some back.

Take out the dish and pour in the leek/mushroom/egg mixture and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes so that it cooks evenly.

Sopa de Ajo – Spanish Garlic Soup

spanish garlic soup

Spanish garlic soup

Seeing as garlic soup is one of our all-time favourites and we are always happy when it’s included on the “menú del día”, I thought it was about time I learnt to cook it myself – especially as we’ve grown so much garlic this year and the chickens are still laying plenty of eggs.

I tried this recipe the other day and it came out well so am cooking it again tonight. Here is the recipe for 2 for a main meal or 4 for a starter. If there are four of you, I would probably double up on the bread and the ham. Some recipes use a ham bone instead of the diced ham but this is a quick alternative and can be rustled up in no time at all.

sopa5

INGREDIENTS:
8 cloves of garlic (or as many as you like), finely sliced
4 slices of French loaf
olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon spicy paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
25g chopped Serrano ham
salt
pepper
1.2 litres chicken stock
2-4 eggs

sopa3Heat the oven to 200ºC. Line a baking tray with foil. Slice the bread, arrange on the tray and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

sopa4Leave to cool for a while and then cut into cubes.

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and gently sauté the garlic until soft but not coloured. Add the ham and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the paprika and chilli powder and stir well before adding the fried bread.

sopa2Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down to a low simmer and crack the eggs into the soup. Cover the pan and leave the eggs to poach for 2-3 minutes and then serve.

Huevos rancheros recipe

Huevos rancheros recipe

huevos ranchros recipe

Huevos rancheros

This huevos rancheros recipe is quick and easy to make. It uses pinto beans, red peppers and spices and the eggs are cracked into the pot to cook just before serving. For more recipe ideas for Mexican food, see Thomasina Miers’ book Mexican Food Made Simple.

INGREDIENTS:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g pinto beans or white beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato purée
400g chopped tomatoes
200ml vegetable stock
4 eggs
tortillas

METHOD:
Heat some oil in a casserole and fry the onion until soft. Add the red pepper and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding the garlic, chilli and spices. Fry for another minute or so to release all the flavours.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, beans, tomato purée, stock and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or so until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Cut the flour tortillas into wedges and fry in a frying pan with a smidgeon of oil until crispy.

Make 4 wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each one. Cover and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until the eggs have set.

Serve with the tortillas.

huevos ranchros recipe

Huevos rancheros

 

Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de Patatas

Tortilla de patatas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This makes a fairly small omelette for 2 or 3 people.

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled
5 eggs
salt and pepper

Cut each potato lengthways into quarters. Thinly slice the potatoes crossways. Soak in water to get rid of the excess starch and then drain.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the potatoes. Mix well so that they are thoroughly coated in the oil and begin frying on a high heat. Fry for 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 or so minutes. After you’ve turned the potatoes, turn the heat up for a minute or so and then cover and turn the heat down for another couple of minutes so that the potatoes get a bit of colour and cook in the steam at the same time.

After about 5 minutes, sprinkle over the onions and fry with the potatoes.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat. Season with salt and pepper.

When the potatoes are cooked, leave to cool down before combining with the egg.

Heat some oil in the frying pan and pour in the egg/potato mixture when the oil is hot. Set the timer for 1 minute and cook on a high heat. Turn down the heat, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the tortilla. Turn the heat up and cook again for 1 minute on high before covering and turning down the heat for 2 minutes. Check the tortilla is cooked in the middle and serve.

It’s nice to make some garlic mayonnaise to serve with it. For a recipe and video, see this post.

Egg update

seven eggs

A full house

On two days now the 7 hens have each laid an egg. The first time was 24th March 2014 and then they did it again on 26th March 2014.

7-eggs1

They adapted well to life in the new chicken coop. Although there were four eggs boxes attached to their sleeping quarters, they always laid their eggs in the same one diagonally opposite the door.

I was really pleased with the chicken coop I bought when we were back in the UK last November from EGGSHELL. The only modification I will make to it for next year is to attach some pieces of plastic to each section of the run. What’s been happening is that the hens kick out the straw and pigeons come and eat it. I’ve bought the plastic from IKEA (PRÖJS desk pad) and I’ll punch some holes in them and then attach them with cable ties to the inside.

7-eggs2

On 27th March, one of the older hens laid my first double yolker ever.

Alioli and Mayonnaise: stick blender method

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise

For some time now, I have been wanting to learn how to make mayonnaise with a stick blender. So far I had had no success as the egg yolk never seemed to reach the blade, it took for ages to drip in the oil and then the mixture would split resulting in a great deal of frustration and wasting a lot of eggs.

About a week ago, however, I saw a video on Internet and it couldn’t be simpler. The trick is to add all the ingredients together at the beginning. Allow time for the oil to float to the top. You then fully submerge the head of the blender and blend for about a minute before lifting it up very slowly as you continue to blend. The secret is not to panic and even if bubbles rise to the surface that look as though they have split, continue blending the bottom part of the container until you are sure that it has started to set.

Here is a video on YouTube of me making mayonnaise with this method:

Here are the two recipes: the first for lighter mayonnaise and second for a thicker garlic alioli.

ALIOLI
INGREDIENTS:
1 extra large egg yolk or 2 medium eggs yolks.
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of water
250ml sunflower oil
salt

MAYONNAISE
INGREDIENTS:
1 extra large egg or 2 medium eggs
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250ml sunflower oil
milk
salt

METHOD FOR BOTH RECIPES

Using the plastic beaker that comes with the stick blender, add the egg or egg yolk and then all the other ingredients and finally the oil. It is important not to add the oil too violently. Allow a couple of minutes for the oil to float to the surface.

Gently lower the stick blender to the bottom of the beaker. Blend on the fastest setting for about a minute. Carefully lift up one side of the blender head to allow small amounts of oil to reach the blade and then slowly lift the blender upwards towards the top of the beaker.

Mix thoroughly and thin with either more oil or milk or yoghurt as preferred. Sometimes it’s nice to add a splash of good quality virgin olive oil to taste. Check for seasoning and serve.
mayonnaise2