Aren’t poached eggs just the best at times? It’s amazing that what’s one of the simplest of dishes – an egg boiled in water – can be so comforting, satisfying, delicious and nutritious all at once. We buy them by the dozen for a few dollars, but are also willing to shell out multiples of that sum if the mood for eggs strikes us while out for brunch. It does seem like the ones we order in restaurants can be impossibly perfect, namely because they are dry on the outside but with runny yolks, and well contained packages vs the stringy, floppy version that for too long I’ve personally been responsible for. This circumstance does beg the question, how do perfect poached eggs come to be?
One of the first dishes I ever cooked growing up was poached eggs, and back when I was seven or eight, it was fun to watch the egg whites dissipate like smoke (spot-on analogy coined by Paul) as I cracked them into the water. The only problem is, this makes for a fairly messy, watery egg! Actually I am none the worse for having grown up with imperfect poached eggs, and in fact they were still yummy enough that I all but ignored any deviation to the ‘recipe’ I’d always followed. But having finally tried this simple technique I don’t think I’ll look back. All you have to do is add a little vinegar to the water and take an extra :30 before dropping the eggs into the water.
Using fresh, local eggs makes an enormous difference in the flavor.
Time: 10-12 minutes
Hands-On Time: 5-7 minutes
Kitchen Equipment: Measuring Spoons, tea/coffee cups, saucepan or deep frying pan, slotted spoon, 2-3 paper towels
– As many eggs as you’d like to make
– 1&1/2 Tsp Apple Cider or White Vinegar Per Egg
– Pinch Salt
– Enough water for eggs to submerge – will vary based on cooking pot
Note: This is a lengthy description because it includes tips for egg transfers from pot to plate. However, the following takes > 5 minutes:
– Set enough water to cover uncracked eggs by 2-3 inches to gently boil over medium heat and add vinegar, plus one pinch of salt.
– Pop any toast into the toaster/gather any garnishes or sides.
– Crack each egg individually into a teacup, removing any shell scraps as you go.
– Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down some to get the most gentle boil possible. Carefully ‘pour’ each egg into the pot by holding the teacup at a low angle very very close to the water’s surface. (Here’s where you’ll see why a teacup, vs just a regular glass, is the preferred vessel – the cup’s handle allows you to get very close to the surface while keeping your fingers at a safe distance).
– Boil eggs for 3-4 minutes, longer if you prefer a firmer yolk.
– Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the eggs and transfer to a plate with a doubled up paper towel.
– Blot the top of the egg and use a doubled or quadrupled corner of a paper towel to blot water from any crevices.
Note: Poached eggs are obviously they are fragile, however they are not as easily breakable as they would seem. A few paper towels go a long way when handling – they provide friction to keep the eggs from slipping, but of course are soft enough not to puncture.
– To transfer the cooked eggs to the plate, hold a folded paper towel in one hand. Working one egg at a time, pick up the paper towel you first set the egg onto, then place the new paper towel on top, gently sandwiching the egg with your hands. Flip your hands so that the ‘bottom’ of the poached egg faces out. Then, cupping the egg in your hand with the paper towel serving as friction, simply place the egg on the toast or the plate. (While getting the hang of it, you can always bring the toast to meet the bottom of the egg and then flip over and place on the plate.)
It’s all about the garnish if you want to immediately elevate poached eggs. Kale micro greens felt appropriate here as they lend a delicate beauty, plus texture and depth of flavor, to this otherwise simple standby.