Who doesn’t love a perfectly poached egg over a piece of toast, an English muffin, or a pile of steamed or gently sautéed greens?
The first rule for poaching eggs is to always use the freshest eggs possible. With fresh eggs, the whites will cling to the yolks better than with older eggs.
There are a number of popular tricks chefs use to help keep the egg together when poaching eggs, including adding a teaspoon or so of vinegar (per egg) to the water, and stirring the water to create a “whirlpool” in the pot before releasing the eggs into the water. But, by far, the simplest and best way to poach eggs is the Julia Child method.
You’ll need a small pot of water, a slotted spoon, eggs, and a small pin (the smaller the better), a bowl of ice water, and a plate covered in a paper towel. This method does not require using vinegar in the water or creating a whirlpool, and it will minimize the amount of wispy egg white strands on the poached eggs.
First, bring the pot of water to a boil. When the water reaches the boiling point, poke a tiny hole in the shell of the egg (at the large end of the egg) with a small pin. There is typically air in the large end of the egg, so poking a hole releases this air. A tiny pin hole in the shell typically will not let anything out of the shell but air.
Next, put the whole egg in the water to boil for ten seconds. Boiling the egg in this manner helps the egg whites to retain their shape and hold to the yolk once you release the egg from the shell into the boiling water.
After boiling the egg for ten seconds, pull it out with the slotted spoon and turn the heat down to bring the boiling water to a simmer. By the time the water temperature is lowered to a simmer, the egg should easily be cool enough to handle with your bare hands.
Now that the water has reached a simmer, gently crack the egg and carefully release it into the water from just above the water surface. Let the egg cook in the water until the yolk is the desired consistency, whether you like the yolk soft and runny or hard. Three minutes (depending on altitude, actual water temperature and initial temperature of the eggs) is a good rule of thumb for the classic poached egg, with just the outside of the yolk tenderly cooked, and a runny center.
Once the egg is poached to desired consistency, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon, and put the poached egg into a bowl of ice water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process. Then place the poached egg onto a plate with some paper towels to drain any excess water before serving.
If you want to give your poached egg that perfect restaurant look for a beautiful presentation, you can trim off any excess wispy egg whites, and you will end up with a lovely teardrop shaped poached egg to top off your dish.
Poaching eggs is one of the healthiest options for cooking eggs. At only 70 calories, a large poached egg will give you about 6 grams of protein, 4.7 grams of mostly unsaturated fat and significant amounts of vitamin D, some healthy antioxidants that are good for your eyes and choline (an essential nutrient for brain function, energy levels and healthy metabolism), of which most of us don’t get enough in our diets.
Looking for a nice, healthy, energizing breakfast? Try sautéing (or steaming) kale and asparagus with some garlic, top it with a poached egg or two, and a side of multigrain toast.
What are some of your favorite ways to eat poached eggs?