Categorized | Cooking Tips

How to Cook Poached Eggs

Eggs are loved by most, including me, and there are many ways to cook them. I prefer scrambled because I am lazy, but others may not mind. Fried eggs are popular also; as are poached eggs and they really do not require very much labor at all.

What is Poaching?

In this application, just to make sure we are all on the same page, the poaching we are dealing with is not to “illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one’s own, or in contravention of official protection,” or “(of an animal) trample or cut up (turf) with its hoofs,” or “(of land) become sodden by being trampled.”

We are talking about poaching in terms of cooking, which is “to cook something in liquid with a temperature ranging from 140°F to 180°F. Poaching is typically reserved for cooking very delicate items like eggs and fish.”

Because poaching uses a lower heat, combined with a small amount of water or broth, poached foods cook at a consistently low temperature, making food moist and tender and more unlikely to be overcooked.

Poaching versus Simmering

To poach a food is to submerge it completely in liquid, cook at a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees with just sheen on the top of the liquid and then to cook for a longer time than other methods. Simmering is at a slightly higher temperature than poaching (185 to 200 degrees), for items needing to cook for a longer time, like some meats, for example. Simmering is also known as a gentle boil, but any bubbles will be very small, unlike a genuine boil.

How to Cook Poached Eggs

The Mechanics

Poaching an egg does require a technique, just like fried eggs and the dreaded flip. The raw egg will be added to water that is barely shimmering so the placement of the egg is critical. Fresh eggs hold their shape better and spread the white out less for better results. For the saucepan method, add two inches of water to a saucepan with a lid; on high, heat water until small bubbles appear at the bottom, then reduce the heat and add the egg(s).

Eggs can be cracked directly into the water, as for fried eggs, but since the egg white must stay somewhat together, there are alternative methods to go from shell to pan. One way is the crack the egg into a small bowl then slide it into the water. Another method uses a small strainer with mesh, which will allow some of the runnier whites to drain out before placing in the water so what you have is a more cohesive raw egg.

Once your eggs are all in the pot, turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for four minutes. This will allow the whites to cook completely (all white, no more clear) while leaving the yoke soft and runny. Using a slotted spoon, gently lift each egg out and place in a bowl or on a plate.

If you so desire and you are the proud owner of an egg poacher, this is, of course, the easiest way. Poaching an egg may seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of experience, you can be confidently poaching to your heart’s desire.

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