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How to Poach Eggs

Crack each batch of eggs into prep bowls so that you can drop them into the water more quickly.

Poached eggs have such a great number of uses, and there is just something about a perfectly poached egg, that’s just well…perfect.  Aside from Eggs Benedict, they are a classic component for Frisee and Lardon Salad, and are delicious with Roast Pork and Ramen Noodles too.  They are actually not that difficult to make.  Here’s how:

You will need:

eggs

3 or 4 prep bowls

a shallow 10″ saucepan

water

white vinegar

a slotted spoon

Procedure:

1.  Fill a 10″ shallow saucepan with water and a splash of vinegar, and bring to a boil.  Lower to just a bare simmer.  Crack an egg into each of the prep bowls, removing any shell that might end up in the bowls, and discarding any ones with broken yolks.  Before you drop them in, give the water a vigorous stir.

Give the water a vigorous stir before the eggs go in.

2. Quickly but gently drop the eggs in one at a time while the water is still moving.  If you are poaching a number of eggs, do them in batches of 3 or 4.  They will cook more evenly.

Cook eggs in batches of 3 or 4. Use a larger pan and more water if you need to do larger batches.

3.  Give the water another gentle stir, keeping to the edges of the pan.  This encourages the egg whites to flip over and coat the tops of the yolks, so you don’t end up with a “sunny side up” appearance.

Give the water a gentle stir right after the eggs go in.

4.  Cook the eggs for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes.  If you have another batch to cook, use this time to crack them into the prep bowls.  The eggs are are ready when the whites are completely set but the yolks are still liquid.  Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water. Blot on paper towels and if desired, use kitchen shears to remove any jagged edges.  Serve immediately.

Finished eggs. The bottom two have been trimmed, the top two have not. Eggs on the left were given a gentle stir after going into the water and have a more pronounced yolk. Eggs on the right got more vigorous stir and have a more even coat of white around the yolk. However the top right egg is overcooked.  Nobody’s perfect.

5.  If you are not using the eggs immediately, plunge them into a bowl of ice water to cool.  When you are ready to serve them, reheat the eggs in barely simmering water for at least 30 seconds and up to a minute, taking care not to overcook them.

NOTES:

The vinegar is added to the water to help the eggs coagulate as soon as they hit the water instead of breaking up.  Don’t add too much vinegar though, or your eggs will take on its flavor.

Fresher eggs hold their shape better and are easier to poach.  As eggs age, they start to break down and liquify.  Eggs also poach better if they start off cold.  As they come to room temperature, the whites get runny and the yolks cook more quickly.

2 thoughts on “How to Poach Eggs

  1. Mine always look ugly. Even worse now as at 6.400 feet above sea level the water boils at a lower temp. I was thinking of buying an electric machine but hate to buy one-purpose tools. Any help here? It takes a minimum of 12 minutes for a hard-cooked egg for summer picnics. And that’s with the eggs in from cold to hot water. Thoughts?

  2. The lower temperature is probably alright for poaching since 180 degrees is ideal. For hard cooked eggs the only thing I can think to try is adding a good amount of salt to to cooking water. The same way salt water freezes at a lower temperature, it should also boil at a higher temperature. If you are cooking the eggs in their shells, I doubt they will absorb too much salt.

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