How To Cook The Perfect Poached Egg
Eggs are packed with :
- vitamins and minerals, from iron to selenium.
- protein, roughly 6g an egg.
- calories, about 72 per egg.
Weight watchers and others may have to keep an eye on cholesterol levels but overall eggs are an excellent health food. Having your eggs poached means you don't have added fats from cooking oil.
When it comes to poaching eggs I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I have to have a good looking egg cooked just right every time. If the white is a bit straggly or nondescript my heart drops;if the yolk is too hard I feel it's a waste of bread and a waste of a good egg. Be the yolk undercooked - full of that watery albumen stuff that just doesn't bear thinking about - I tend to react with a YUK!! I'm not touching that thing.
That's why I always insist on 100% perfect poached eggs, with no compromises.
So, if you want to become a perfectionist and learn how to poach an egg please follow the following tips. The process is simple - yet if you miss out on any one of the tips you could end up with egg on your face! Hopefully you'll achieve perfection on a plate every time.
Tip No 1
- Make sure the eggs you use are as fresh as can be. The fresher the egg the better the white holds together in the water. I'd say if the eggs are from one to six days old then that should be enough to ensure perfection.
Free range or organic eggs would be the ideal choice, bought from a local farmer, or, better still, taken from your own chicken coop.
There's nothing to stop you using older eggs but be prepared for a bigger challenge when it comes to precipitation in the pan!
Tip No 2
- Fill your pan with enough water. Not too much, not too little. Enough to cover the egg if you were hard boiling it. Around two or three good sized cups in a medium sized pan. Having a decent amount of water helps the egg white form a solid body and will prevent the egg white sicking to the bottom of the pan.
Cold water is best as this will have more oxygen in it and give the egg a better taste. Sounds funny but try tasting a poached egg that's been cooked in water from the hot tap, then try one using cold.
Tip No 3
- Having the right spoon to extract the poached egg is very important. I find a medium sized slotted spoon is just the job. It allows you to gently scoop out the whole egg whilst the water runs away, leaving the egg 'dry' and ready for the plate. Keep it handy to the side, close by.
This one has a wooden handle which keeps your hand nice and cool whilst retrieving the eggs.
Tip No 4
- Get the water boiling and bubbling nicely and your egg ready for cracking.
That's it. The challenge is to be ready for the next crucial move.
Tip No 5
- Turn the heat down so the boiling and bubbling stops. Crack your egg and carefully let it slip into the water. Don't delay. Be sure not to damage the yolk as it slides under the surface. Keep the heat down. This ensures your egg will remain intact. Wait two or three minutes until all the white solidifies and the yolk is cooked.
For those who don't like cracking an egg above the water - first crack your egg into a saucer or small plate, then slip the egg gently into the pan.
Tip No 6
- When the egg is solid enough to lift place your spoon underneath and gently raise it out of the water. Check that the yolk is done by pressing on the skin with a small spoon. There should be a little resistance. If it's still too wobbly lower the egg back into water. If you need to up the heat do this for a few seconds.
Lift the egg out of the water again. Re-check the yolk. It should be well and truly done to perfection.
To Time or Not To Time?
Some people like to time their poached eggs in similar fashion to hard boiled eggs. They estimate around 3 minutes.
I find this a little uncertain and never time my poached eggs. I'd rather extract the egg early and, if it's a little underdone, pop it back into the hot water for another minute or so. With experience you'll be able to tell when your poached egg is ready for the plate.
Pure Water for a Perfect Poached Egg
For me pure water is enough to get great results but I know some people like to add a few drops of vinegar, salt or oil to the pan to help get a better non sticky poached egg. I've tried this and can't really see the benefits. I must be a purist at heart!
Poached Egg Recipes
There are many ways to have your poached eggs. I prefer mine nice and simple, on bread or toast. You can find a good bread baking recipe here.
Breakfast - poached egg on toast with butter and seasoning, on a roll, with a muffin.
Lunch - poached egg with rasher of bacon on a roll, turkey slice, or vegetarian burger.
Supper - poached egg with a side salad of cress, rocket, fennel, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
How Do You Prefer Your Eggs?
Images of Poached Eggs
All images by chef-de-jour.
© 2013 Andrew Spacey