A Damp Towel Is The Key To The Perfect Hard
There are lots of tips and tricks all over the internet for making perfect hard-boiled eggs. You've perhaps read debates on the perfect boiling time, ways to make hard-boiled eggs easier to peel, and if whether to use an ice bath after cooking.
One boiled egg trick, however, is an off-the-wall idea that works every time; involving a wet towel, it is placed in the oven and helps result in the perfect hard-boiled (or more accurately, hard-cooked) eggs every time. In fact, making hard-cooked eggs in the oven is a method recently recommended by Alton Brown, a celebrity chef famous for his cooking hacks.
According to Brown on his YouTube channel, using a wet cotton towel in the oven to hard-cook eggs is a method he uses frequently. This way, when making large batches, there's no need to boil multiple pots of water; instead burners can be kept free for other dishes. For this method, the wet towel is an especially important factor, because it will keep the eggs off the oven rack and prevent strange-looking dark spots. It also releases steam, which will not only help cook the eggs perfectly, but ultimately makes them easier to peel.
For this hard-cooked egg method, it is important to put the eggs in the oven before preheating, because exposing the eggs to high heat too quickly can cause them to explode. Or as Brown puts it, "Do not put the eggs in a hot oven unless you hate eggs and really like cleaning your oven."
So, how is it done? Start by choosing a towel — a regular kitchen towel made from cotton and big enough to cover the oven rack works best. Run that towel under cool water, soaking it entirely. Then, ring it out until it is a damp — but not dripping — wet cloth.
Open the oven and lay the towel flat on the rack. Then, take the eggs and line them up on the damp towel in the oven, about an inch apart from one another. Close the oven and set to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, then leave the eggs inside to cook for 30 minutes. Remove the eggs, lightly crack them by shaking them in a metal pot, then run them under cool water for easy peeling.
Is it safe to put a cotton towel in the oven? As long as the towel stays wet and doesn't dry out, the answer is yes. But Brown warns that it is important to watch the oven and not leave the room while the eggs cook, just in case.
For those looking to eliminate the risk entirely, avoid putting a dish towel in the oven by replacing it with a cupcake tray. For this method, follow the same temperature and timings as Alton Brown's recipe, but replace that damp towel with a cupcake tin and one un-cracked egg in each hole. Of course, this cooking method does not involve steam, so the eggs might be slightly harder to peel. To counteract this, when the eggs are cooked, immediately transfer them to a bowl of icy water and allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes. This muffin tin approach is also a great hack for cooking French baked eggs without ramekins.