One of the simplest pleasures, the soft buttery richness of a perfect poached egg. It can accompany most anything savoury or sweet or stand all on its own. It can be breakfast, brunch, lunch or a light quick dinner and I love them! So let’s get down to it.
Put a small pot of water on medium heat, size of the pot depending on how many eggs you’re poaching of course, and you want to add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar to the water. If a bigger pot and more water-more vinegar. It doesn’t need be too precise, I actually just do a quick glug, no measuring. What the vinegar does is tighten up the egg whites when the egg hits the simmering water and keeps everything in a neat, little pillowy package of goodness. Contrary to some opinions vinegar does not a “grainy” white make, nor give an odd flavor to the egg. Maybe if you poured in way too much vinegar, but you’re to going to do this.
A note on egg freshness – poached egg success depends 100% on a FRESH egg. You can tell immediately if your egg is an old one (if not sooner) the instant you slide it into the simmering water, the whites disperse and spread like a thin swirling cloud through the water leaving the sad yellow little yolk bereft. If you use a not so fresh egg in a scramble – well who’s to know eh?
You can see here that my egg is in a dish, this ensures my yolk is intact- another important note for poached. Sure you can be cavalier and crack that egg straight into the pot of water but if the yolk breaks you’re done, you have yolk water, why walk that edge eh? But if your yolk breaks as you crack it into the dish you know right then you’re not having a poached egg. You can save face in front of your breakfast guests and say, You know what? I changed my mind, I’d rather make an omelette, or scrambled egg, or hey, French Toast! Everybody loves French Toast.
When the water comes to temperature this is what you want to see, little bitty bubbles perking away. You do not want boiling water, eggs are delicate gelatinous orbs so cook gently. The little bubbles also act as a buffer that keeps the egg from settling on the bottom of the pot and sticking and consequently overcooking.
You can, as I sometimes do, give the water a quick swirl with a spoon before sliding the egg in to create a little vortex that assists the whites in curling around the yolk, but this isn’t really necessary.
Sliding the eggs in here you can see the action of the bubbles lifting the whites up. Reminds me of a lava lamp.
While poaching make sure to have some paper towel at hand to blot the finished egg. Nothing worse than a lovely egg sliding around the plate in a skim of water. One twitch when carrying to the table and its call in the dog (or cat) and back to the stove with you.
Don’t worry, handle gently while tipping them into the paper towel and they will remain intact. I roll my egg right over into the towel and back again into the spoon. There, nice and dry. To get a soft poach simmer for about 3 1/2 minutes, but the best way to check is to pull up the egg in the spoon and give it a little jiggle, you can tell what doneness it’s at by the way it moves. Do it, you’ll understand.
The rest of the plate is up to you. I’ve made a simple avocado and tomato salad with feta and am using a Chimmichurri sauce I had kicking around. So good.
And there’s the money shot!
Oh ya! Now get in the kitchen and poach up some eggs!