Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Perfect Poached Egg

You need this on Saturday morning.

Poached eggs, specifically Eggs Benedict, are a weekend breakfast obsession of mine. If we go out to breakfast and they're on the menu, it's the only thing I'm ordering. But making poached eggs at home has never been one of my talents. For years I've been trying to get them right - perfectly round, firm on the outside but soft in the middle, and opaque enough so you don't see the yolk until cutting it open. No matter how many times I tried, they always seemed to spread and be a bit see-through. 

Not anymore.

Poached eggs are finicky little things, but a few key details make all the difference:

- The perfect temperature water
- A whirlpool
- A splash of vinegar

A lot of times we'll eat these on an Ezekiel English muffin with lox, or over a simple salad of lemon dressed arugula and tomatoes. These particular ones were laid atop a slice of toasted whole grain bread topped with sautéed spinach, kale, scallions, grape tomatoes and melted gruyere cheese, and then sprinkled with fleur de sel, freshly cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

It's what Saturday mornings were made for.

The Perfect Poached Egg

This is really more of a technique than a recipe. Here's how I make mine:

1. Place a medium sized pot about half full of water on the stove.
2. Add a splash (about a teaspoon) of white vinegar.
3. Heat the water over medium heat until just before it begins to simmer, then turn it all the way to low. The water should be very hot but not actually bubbling at all.
4. Crack an egg into a small dish or ramekin (if you crack the egg right into the pot, the whites will spread).
5. Using a wooden spoon, swirl the water a few times until you have a whirlpool going.
6. Place the egg dish very close to the water and gently slide the egg into the center of the whirlpool. Poach only one egg at a time - it takes longer, but it's worth it. When the egg first goes in it will look like it's falling apart, but give it a minute.
7. After a couple seconds (maybe 10-20), use your wooden spoon to gently move the egg, helping the egg wrap around the yolk and making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom (if it's starting to stick, just use the spoon or a plastic spatula to carefully lift it a bit).
8. After about 3-4 minutes, when the egg is getting firm but still wobbles a bit when nudged, scoop it out and lay it on a plate lined with paper towels. Let all the excess water drain into the towel.
9. There will usually be some extra egg white clouding the water after this, so I like to scoop all that out before repeating the process with the next egg.

If you've cooked a couple eggs separately and want to reheat them all before serving, just drop them gently back into the hot water for a few seconds, drain on paper towels and then serve.