Poached to Perfection

>> Thursday, May 20, 2010

A while back, I poached a couple eggs. They turned out beautifully, and I loved them. So much! And then I tried again . . . and they were horrible (yolk broke in the pot). I tried again, and they were terrible (all the egg whites floated to the top in a huge mess). So, I hadn't tried making them again until Ashley (over at Edible Perspective) posted her own adventure.

It's widely known that poaching eggs is, well, difficult. Once you're able to master the process, though, you'll want to make them every single day. It means you can get all the benefits from eggs (check 'em out, people!) without added fat from butter or oil for frying or milk for scrambling.

I also consulted my Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook for this activity. Martha's top piece of advice? The water must, must, must be at the correct temperature. To achieve this temp, you must first pour about two to three inches of water into a large pot. Then bring that water to a boil. Then turn the heat down and bring to a simmer. But not just any simmer, folks. You need to create this creepy-still simmer, where the water doesn't seem to be simmering at all, really. Just super hot and maintaining that hot-ness.

Step two involves cracking an egg into a small heat-proof bowl. If this is your first time poaching, I recommend only trying to poach one egg at a time. Until you get the process down entirely, it's simply too difficult -- and you'll soon learn that when you put the egg in the water, it becomes so delicate that many things can go wrong.

Take a deep breath. You're going to put the egg in the water now. I didn't get any photos of this part . . . but Ashley notes that it's important to "create a vortex" around the egg by gently stirring. So, you may want to throw a splash of white vinegar in the pot. This helps the egg whites stay together. Either way, just stir the water to create your vortex. Then take your heat-proof bowl (with egg) and gently pour into the middle of that vortex.

Continue stirring -- very gently -- and you'll begin to see all kinds of egg parts float to the top. Don't worry about this. Just keep stirring (and keep an eye on the time).

For runny poached eggs, you'll want to wait about 2 to 3 minutes. For harder poached eggs (my favorite), wait about 4 minutes. When the time is up, use a slotted spoon to carefully lift the egg out of the water (like in the photo above -- and likely your egg won't look so hot, but it'll taste SO good, I promise). Place on paper towels to dry slightly.

Continue this process with the remaining eggs -- we made four in all. Don't be discouraged if not all your attempts are successful. Patience is certainly necessary . . . and practice. Practice, practice, practice, says Martha.

Then toast some English muffins (Ashley used some toasted Fitness Bread). Stephen put his in a wheat wrap with spinach. We both used cracked pepper liberally to season. And enjoy. The process is somewhat time consuming and advanced . . . but we imagine once we get it down a few times, we'll be poaching pros in no time!

Is there a cooking process that completely intimidates you? Or maybe one you'd like us to try out? Maybe you have tips on how to poach that we didn't mention, too. Just leave us a comment or email us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com.

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