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Choose Your Own Eggventure

Illustration: Anna Kövecses

You love eggs. But you need them cooked your way. The following journey leads you to foolproof techniques for egg perfection. Pick a style: soft- or hard-scrambled, omelet or frittata, hard- or soft-boiled, and then get cracking. You'll discover treasured skills and expert tips along the way. Choose your path to breakfast bliss.

Scrambled

You wake early on Saturday, but your body clock is wound tight, and more sleep ain't happening. It's cold and gloomy outside—perfect for all-day jammies. Your revving metabolism needs fuel, though, and a warm plate to crawl from bed, then make everyone a big pile of scrambled eggs. But you remember: They like their eggs scrambled differently than how you do them. Very differently. "Hell with them," you think. "I'm making a plate of perfection." You slip stealthily down to the kitchen and heat up a trusty nonstick skillet. Do you:

1. Scramble hot and fast for big, fluffy curds with a tender yet satisfying chew, the kind you get at your favorite breakfast join downtown?

Your perfect recipe: Diner-Style Scrambled Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

2. Cook low and slow, stirring nonstop, for tiny curds and custardy texture, the dreamy-creamy kind chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten serves with a dollop of caviar on top?

Your perfect recipe: Creamy Soft-Scrambled Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Poached

After the kids' Saturday morning basketball game, you bring friends home for an impromptu brunch. One guy suggests poached eggs, because he would—he usually eats out and has no idea how much stress the mere idea of poached eggs puts on the average home cook. Still, pillowy poached eggs would be fantastic. The guy says the top French chefs swear by the swirling vortex method, which delivers perfectly ovoid poached eggs without any raggedy whites. But you don't need Le Cordon Bleu approval; you just want to feed everyone at once, with poached eggs that might look a little shaggy but taste just right, merci beaucoup. Do you:

1. Whisk a deep pot of simmering water into a whirlpool and sculpt each egg in Escoffier-level perfection?

Your perfect recipe: Swirl-Poached Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

2. Simmer 2 inches of water in a straight-sided sauté pan and poach everyone's eggs at once?

Your perfect recipe: Shallow-Poached Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Boiled

Your husband pulls the last four eggs from the fridge. He plans to hard-boil them for lunch later in the week. "Then I can make whatever I feel like—egg salad, tuna Niçoise, deviled eggs, the list goes on," he says proudly. You give him points for enthusiasm. And creativity, too. But he hard-boils like a savage, cooking them so long the whites are like industrial-strength latex and the gray-green yolks smell like Satan's breath. So you step in, offering to hard-cook them. Or—or!—you could soft-boil them for supple whites and thick, velvety yolks. That way, both of you can enjoy them hot, right now. Eggless tuna Niçoise is still delicious, right? Do you:

1. Boil water and set the timer for eggs cooked precisely to the second, in what may be the simplest way to coax out their lunch textures and rich flavor?

Your Perfect Recipe: 375-Second Soft-Boiled Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

2. Set the eggs in cold water, bring them to a boil, and then let them rest so the whites are firm but not tough, while the yolks cook through but stay moist?

Your Perfect Recipe: Foolproof Hard-Boiled Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey
How to Make Eggs-in-a-Cloud

Stuffed and Topped

The in-laws come to your house unannounced after their weekly worship/Sunday morning news programs/silent, tense car ride (your eggventure, your call). They're verging on hungry—a good breakfast would work wonders for all. Just like you, your mother-in-law loves fluffy, lightly browned omelets stuffed with fresh veggies and a little cheese. Your father-in-law prefers tall slices of quiche with flaky homemade crust. (Not. Happening.) The happy medium? Frittatas! But your father-in-law doesn't know what they are, and he's been wary of Italian food in general ever since you told him what puttanesca means. Do you:

1. Go Mediterranean and bake simple veggie frittatas without any pesky omelet-flipping?

Your perfect recipe: Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Photo: Jennifer Causey

2. Make a golden-brown, half-moon omelets, right and fluffy, with a fresh vegetable filling?

Your perfect recipe: Half-Moon Browned Omelet

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Fried

Your old college roommate is over for the weekend. The two of you wax nostalgic about late-late-night breakfasts you'd have at the greasy spoon near school. You both always ordered the fried eggs: violently seared on the flattop in raging oil so the edges turned deep brown, lacy, and crunchy, while the yolks ran free and yellow like perps from a crime scene. But in the years since, you've changed in so many ways. Most important, you've developed a taste for gently cooked sunny-side up eggs with inviolably chaste whites. Your roomie still loves old-school eggs, and the chat has made her nervous. She wants eggs, now. Do you:

1. Fire up the ol' cast iron and put a hard sizzle on those whites, turning them crispy, crunchy, and every bit as flavorful as the yolks?

Your perfect recipe: Frizzled Sunny-side Up Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey

2. Use a little finesse to "fry" and baste those sweet eggs so gently you get wedding-dress whites, tender as a sonnet?

Your perfect recipe: Pristine Sunny-Side Up Eggs

Photo: Jennifer Causey