~ It's Monday Morning! Wake Up & Poach an Egg!!! ~
For whatever reasons, it has been brought to my attention that many of you are petrified to poach an egg. Ever since I posted my recipe for ~ 'Moonstruck' Eggs in Brioche Toast (It's Amore!!) ~ three weeks, ago, e-mails asking me to demonstrate egg poaching have been trickling in from all over the place. Since I was in the mood for a poached egg on an English muffin for breakfast this morning, I decided to take my camera to the stove and photograph the process (which I instantly found out is hellaciously hard to do because poaching an egg, like playing the piano, requires both hands). Before we get started, I must make this clear:
My method is my method, and, it came about after a series of egg-poaching disasters I encountered back in the latter 1970's. My mother and grandmother never poached eggs, so I was never witness to a strategy, plan of attack or technique. They did, however, make lots of eggs, with soft-cooked ones being my favorite, so, when I had my first eggs Benedict for brunch at the Lehigh Valley Country Club with my soon-to-be mother- and father-in-law in 1974, anyone could have guessed I was going to love them. After getting married and settled into our first apartment, I wanted to recreate that wonderful brunch, and, it failed horribly on two of three counts: the poached eggs and the hollandaise. The English muffins, however, were very good. I admit, it was a high-risk undertaking with my culinary expertise at the time, but, I've always been fearless in the kitchen. In my own defense, there was no food TV or internet back then. Most cookbooks didn't include photos and their directions were vague at best. One often had to rely on the "practice makes perfect" approach to achieve success, and, so it was for me and poached eggs:
Practice makes "perfect": I learned from my mistakes!
While both of these photos are edible, when it comes to poached eggs, you're looking for eggs with firm (but not rubbery), opaque whites that are evenly distributed around a soft, bright yellow yolk that will ooze its "liquid gold" when pierced with a knife or a fork.
Note: This first photo illustrates what we are trying to avoid. While the yolk is perfectly cooked, it is not evenly blanketed in the whites...
In my opinion, "perfect" is a word that should be removed from the title of every recipe claiming to have perfected a method, and then shows you their best photograph. All I will do for you is minimize the risk of the always present danger:
ugly poached eggs.
~ Step 1. Fill a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan with 1 1/2" of water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (or don't). A wide-bottomed pan is necesary because you need room to stir around the egg. I add the vinegar because it is said it tightens up the egg. I have poached eggs with and without vinegar and have not noticed any difference. NEVER add salt to the water. Trust me. Don't boil the water and don't simmer the water. Bring the water to a quivery state, or: so hot it is ready to simmer. Maintain this temperature.
~ Step 2. Choose your eggs. I like to poach jumbo eggs, because I want a big, fat egg on my portion. Always use the freshest eggs available, and, always remove them from the refrigerator 30-45 minutes prior to poaching. A cold egg will not poach evenly. The white will get rubbery before the yolk cooks properly. Note: All culinary experts agree that cracking the egg into a small container prior to poaching makes it easier to slide it into the water without breaking the yolk.
Note: The reason for creating the whirpool is it immediately swirls the water around the egg, helping to wrap the white around the yolk. Continue stirring for 15-20 seconds.
If your egg seems to be sticking to the bottom of the pan, just slide a rubber spatula underneath it. From here on out, try to relax. There are always going to be a few whispy whites that swim out into the water. It's normal so don't panic!
~ Step 4. Continue stirring the water slowly around the egg, using the spoon to push the whites into place until they set around and over the top of the yolk. Once my egg has been in the pan for about 1 full minute, I like to gently flip it over and let it continue to poach an additional 2-2 1/2 minutes (for a total of 3-3 1/2 minutes).
~ Step 5. Using a slotted spoon remove the egg from the water and gently blot the top of the egg and the bottom of the spoon, to absorb pockets of water that lay on top of the egg and underneath it. Serve.
Wait. That's just one egg! What happens if I plan on serving these for a crowd?
Continue poaching as many eggs as you want, patting them dry and placing them on a plate or a platter. (Restaurants place them in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator overnight, but truthfully, when I tried that, I thought the yolks got a tad gluelike -- I am very picky about egg yolks.) Lightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside, at room temperature, for 1-2 hours. Reheat, a few at a time (4-6), in proper temperature quivering water for 30-35 seconds. Do not overcook them on the reheat. Pat dry and serve immediately as directed in specific recipe:
Special Equipment List: 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; 1-cup measuring container or ramekin; spoon; slotted spoon; rubber spatula; paper towels
For another Preschutti family favorite, you can find my recipe for ~ 'Moonstruck' Eggs in Brioche Toast (It's Amore!!!) (Not to be confused With English Toad-In-The-Hole) ~, by clicking on the Related Article link below!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)