A healthy and delicious way to prepare eggs is by poaching. This method entails cooking an egg in simmering water. Poaching is a favored cooking method since it produces consistent and predictable results. This is achieved by precise timing and the temperature of the simmering water as there is no guesswork. The ideal poached egg has a runny yolk with a hardened crest and now remaining raw white. Eggs meant for poaching should be very fresh but newly laid eggs need to be at least 24 hours old to prevent the white from separating from the yolk.
There is a vast array of dishes that incorporate poached eggs including the perennial brunch favorites Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. Poached eggs are the basis for many Creole dishes and several cuisines favor eggs poached in soup or broth then served in the cooking liquid. Libyan, Italian, Indian, and Turkish recipes also call for this versatile ingredient
The Whirlpool Method
The whirlpool method is a great choice for making one or two poached eggs. Using a deep and narrow 2-quart saucepot add enough water to come 1 inch up the side of the pot. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the water and bring to a simmer (slow boil) over medium heat. Break a very fresh egg into a small bowl or ramekin and use the handle of a spatula to stir the water in one direction until it is smoothly moving in that direction. The swirling water will prevent the egg from “feathering” which means spreading out in the water. Now add the egg by carefully dropping it into the center of the whirlpool. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and set a timer for 5 minutes. Do not touch the pan, lift the lid, or disturb the egg(s) in any way. If you are making more than 2 eggs, use a 12-inch nonstick skillet instead of a 2 quart saucier and do not swirl the water but follow all other steps.
Using a Sieve
Another trick to perfect poached eggs is to use water that is very hot but barely simmering. Fewer bubbles means less agitation in the water which can in turn break up and disperse the egg whites. You can also prevent “ragged” whites simply by using a fine mesh sieve. Once your water is at a bare simmer crack an egg into a sieve and let some of the thinner egg white strain out. Then gently slide the egg into the water to create a compact poached egg. Please note that this method might be a little safer to prevent “feathering” than adding vinegar which can create a dry egg and an acidic flavor. After using either the whirlpool or sieve method you can immediately transfer your poached egg to a cold water bath to help prevent overcooking. There you have it-two easy methods to prepare elegant poached eggs at home to use in a variety of dishes or simply enjoy on their own.