On our trip to Tawse a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting the winery’s chickens who do such a good job of foraging between the vines. They also produce (as chickens are wont to do) some top-notch eggs and like any self-respecting group of foodster bloggers our group bought out the several dozen that were available for sale that day. With the last of my Tawse eggs I made pickled eggs.
For me this is more than just a shock-value post or an attempt to check another box on the culinary to-make list. I really like pickled eggs. They’re vinegary, a little bit salty, a filling snack that feels quite healthy. Though I don’t claim to be a dietary researcher I’m skeptical of the recent finger pointing at the level of cholesterol in egg yolks. Historically eggs are one of the longest and most broadly consumed foods and while this is the ultimate in anecdotal evidence they always seem to garner positive mentions from centenarians asked for their “secret to longevity”.
This experiment also gave me the opportunity to test out a new cookbook that has really caught my attention, Harold McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking. I imagine I’ll be posting separately about the book but it’s best described briefly as 524 recipe-free pages of culinary science gold that is slightly less technical and more carefully organised than On Food and Cooking. While it doesn’t have the bulleted lists of ingredients and numbered steps that 99% of recipes do it does offer some important techniques and obviously because I’m mentioning it here one of those is boiling eggs. Actual boiling water is, McGee points out, too turbulent (shells will crack) and too hot (proteins will over-coagulate before the egg is cooked through) so the best way to boil an egg is to heat a pan of water to boiling turn off the heat and once the water has just fallen off the boil gently lower the eggs in and cover. In ten to twelve minutes they’ll be firm-set.
Spicy Pickled Eggs
- 500 ml white or cider vinegar
- 3 – 6 large chicken eggs
- 20 g kosher salt
- 6 g brown sugar
- 3 sage leaves
- 6 cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1/2 dried hot pepper, most of the seeds removed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat once it is boiling and wait until it is no longer bubbling (about thirty seconds) before lowering the eggs in. Cover and leave undisturbed for 10 – 12 minutes. McGee suggests controlling all variables (same pot, amount of water, and number of eggs each time) and boiling an extra tester egg that you can pull out first until you have an exact time for your rig determined.
- While the eggs are cooling bring all the other ingredients to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes and then let cool to at least room temperature.
- Peel the eggs and place them in a very clean Mason jar. Strain the cooled brine into the jar, over the eggs and refrigerate.