I haven’t been a big breakfast person for most of my adult life(with the exception of my Father’s pancakes). The truth is that, most days, I’d prefer reheated pasta, cold pizza or even a hamburger to start my day. I generally avoid such temptation but I’m not saying I don’t think about it.
Those days may have changed. I’ve finally managed to make awesome poached eggs with repeated success. And, like most things cooking, I’ve found it to be surprisingly easy.
Let’s start with what I don’t do: vinegar. Many who have researched poaching eggs find a common tip: add acid (usualy different types of vinegar). The amount varies but I’ve seen up to a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water. Vinegar helps coagulate the egg and makes for an easier task – but at a cost. It certainly changes the taste (for those who claim it doesn’t, I challenge you to drink 2 or 3 cups of water with this ratio of vinegar added to it) and I believe, with no ‘real’ proof that it also changes the texture. I find it makes the egg far more rubbery.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned about the process:
- Crack the egg into a measuring cup in advance of the water reaching temperature. I use as small a cup as possible – generally this means a 1/3 cup measure. This ensures the yolk is in tact, shells are absent and, most importantly, allows you to gently coax the egg into the water.
- It helps to use a spoon to create a circular current in the water. Gently stir the water for 10-15 seconds to create a current. You’re trying to leave a ‘hole’ in the center of the water while ensuring the water remains relatively level. If the surface is pitching up and down, it’s going to toss your egg up and down as well as around in a circular motion.
- Pot size matters. I use one that’s around 2-2.5 times as wide as my spoon which makes created the current the easiest.
- The water doesn’t have to be at a boil or a simmer. I actually prefer to add the eggs as the first few bubbles appear on the bottom of the pot.
- You don’t need an ocean of water – though you wan’t at least a few cups to keep water temperature stable.
- I do one at a time.
- Add the egg to the center of the current as soon as you remove the spoon from stirring. Monitor the heat to prevent it from simmering (this often means lowering the temperature; many turn it off at this point) and don’t touch the pot or water.
- The egg will lower the temperature of the water. I like to keep the heat on for a few minutes but lower it before it simmers.
- Remove it when it’s done to your liking (it will take 5-10 minutes). I leave mine in until they look a shade overcooked – once removed from the water I tend to have exactly what I want.
- Remove wish a slotted spoon but take your time to shift the egg back and forth to remove all of the water from it (including from its surface).