How to Poach an Egg

June 18, 2012 3:20 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Eggs Benedict
The best Eggs Benedict begins with the journey of a single poached egg. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Poached eggs are one of those "restaurant mysteries" that spook home cooks, veteran and unseasoned alike. To some, they evoke images of experts leaning over giant pots of boiling water with a surgeon's unflinching eye for detail. To others, they evoke memories of failure and the disappointed looks on loved ones' faces when you tell them that they won't be having Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

We're debunking the myth of the poached egg, demystifying the intricacies behind the technique, and showing you how to make beautiful, perfect poached eggs each time.

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Why? They're darn impressive, they're incredibly healthy, and they're delicate and delicious. Add another notch to your culinary belt and read on.

1. Choose your egg wisely.

Anyone who's ever failed at poached eggs knows that the most difficult part of the process is finding an egg that keeps its shape: one that doesn't scatter to the four corners immediately after being added to a pan of hot water and just stays in tact. In fact, an egg that sits still is also an egg that cooks evenly and thoroughly.

To this end, use farm fresh eggs whenever possible. Not only do they support your local farmer (and your local farmer should be supported!), but they taste better, they retain their shape in water, and they provide you with a radiant egg white and golden yolk when they're done cooking.

If you can't find farm fresh eggs, then have on hand two tablespoons of vinegar. We like to use rice vinegar for this as its flavor is the most subtle. Try not to use the seasoned kind.

2. The Poaching Process

Ah, here comes the fun part. In a shallow sauce pan, bring a couple of inches of water to a boil. If you're not using farm fresh eggs, add the vinegar at this time.

One at a time, crack an egg into a bowl. Turn your heat down so that the boiling water in the pan reduces to a simmer.

Using the end of the bowl, add the egg to the simmering water so that the egg slips in while already submerged in the pan. Repeat for as many eggs as you need, making sure each has ample space.

Cover the pan. Turn off the heat. Let the eggs cook for four minutes.

Remove them with a slotted spoon. It's that easy. Enjoy the fruits of your relatively easy labor!

3. How to Enjoy Poached Eggs

If you're doing Sunday brunch, then the best way to serve 'em up is in that diner staple, the Eggs Benedict.

Before poaching your eggs, take four whisked egg yolks, 2-3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1 pinch of cayenne, 1 pinch of thyme, 1 pinch of sage and combine them in a bowl.

Boil water in a pan on your stovetop. Reduce the water to a simmer. Add the bowl to the top of the boiling water, creating a double boiler. Keep whisking until it's the desired consistency. Tada! Hollandaise Sauce.

Assemble your eggs benedict this way: english muffin, cooked canadian bacon, poached egg, hollandaise sauce. Serve it with home fries and a handful of bitter greens.

If it's lunchtime, squeeze lemon juice, drizzle olive oil, and crack some black pepper above a bed of leafy greens. If you have a can of good tuna around, go ahead and add it to the salad. On top of that, put your poached egg. When you're ready to eat, break the yolk. It'll mix with everything and make a dressing for your greens that's bar-none the best in town.



 

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