Poached Eggs

by Anne Bennett on October 26, 2011

I poached this egg last night and warmed it for lunch today.

I wouldn’t want to go in for a cholesterol check just now, considering that I’ve been poaching eggs every which way for the last two days. We had eggs with spinach and quinoa for dinner last night, eggs on toast for breakfast this morning, and I just ate this egg atop more spinach for lunch.

No more eggs for me. Tonight’s dinner will be its grownup incarnation, chicken. I never thought I’d be excited about a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Happily, this ovum overindulgence has resulted in a method for poaching eggs that works, I think, better than the standard method of cracking a raw egg into a cup and then tipping it into a shallow pan of simmering water.

You should try this. Eggs make for a lovely and quickly prepared dinner. How about topping a salad with crumbled bacon and a poached egg or two, or with various vegetables that lend themselves nicely? Asparagus, for instance, can be sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and topped with an egg. Or spinach. Or Swiss Chard. Or how about kale? You get the picture.

The following poaching method requires an extra step, but it’s easy and it’s worth it. And it comes from none other than Julia Child!

Here’s what you do: heat about 2 quarts of water in a medium stock pot until boiling. Prick a hole* in the large end of the egg (to release air from the tiny air pocket inside. Don’t worry, the egg won’t leak out). Then, using a slotted spoon, lower the egg into the gently boiling water for 10 seconds, counting thusly: “One thousand, two thousand, three thousand.” After 10 seconds, remove the egg and do the same with the other eggs you’re going to poach.

Now, fill a shallow saute pan with water to a depth of about 2 inches and bring it just to a simmer but NOT a boil. Add about 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water.

Then, one by one, crack the egg fairly hard against a flat surface, and holding the shell¬†right at the water line¬†(you might want to use plastic gloves if you’re afraid of burning yourself, but I had no problem), open it quickly and release it into the water. The egg should hold its shape better than if you were doing this with a raw egg, because the 10-second dip into boiling water started the cooking process.

Allow the eggs to remain in the water for exactly 4 minutes. No longer. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, and here’s the really cool part: if you don’t want to eat them just yet, place them into a bowl of cold water (with a few ice cubes, which will stop the cooking process) and refrigerate them for up to two days. This is what restaurants do when they know they’ll need lots of poached eggs quickly.

When it’s time to eat, just dip them into hot water for a few seconds to take off the chill, and serve. They will still have a slightly runny yolk, as if you had just poached them. I’ve never served eggs at holidays because it was too labor-intensive to poach them all at once, but now I can make them ahead and serve them on Christmas morning.

Christmas is two months from now. I figure by then I’ll be ready for another egg.

*I bought an inexpensive egg pricker gizmo at a kitchen shop. You simply place the egg onto the gizmo and push down. It makes a perfect, tiny hole.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lin October 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I like poached eggs but generally am in a hurry and soft boiled takes less thought, but would like to do eggs benedict for the holidays; may give it a try this year. Any lower calorie recipes? I’ll have to check the WW website.

Brendoshka October 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

What does a fella do if his amazing wife hates runny eggs?

Anne October 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Pity. Molten yolks are the nectar of the gods!

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