I have always liked poached eggs. When I was a kid they were one of my favourite comfort foods, often served alongside Kraft dinner and asparagus on nights when it was just my Mom and I at dinner. They were a treat, and to this day, I always think of them as something special. And yes, I know Kraft dinner is really bad for you, but I still love it.
When Mom and I made poached eggs, we used one of those saucepans with the plastic cups in them. Held in the pan by a metal holder, the bottom of the cups was suspended in boiling water. We thought it made poaching eggs easier, as the idea of cooking them directly in boiling water was kind of daunting. Later, my parents took to poaching eggs in the microwave. Bless them, they loved their microwave. My Dad even had a spit that went in there for cooking meat.
But I digress. The thing is that I grew up thinking poaching eggs the old fashioned way was hard – in fact, nigh on impossible. Surely the eggs ran all over the pan, and folks talked about having to add vinegar to the water to make them cook properly, something I didn’t fancy at all. So I used a pan with plastic cups just like my parents had, but every time I went to a restaurant and had beautiful eggs like this -
I wanted to abandon my plastic cup filled saucepan and do things the old fashioned way. I also began to worry about the idea of cooking eggs in plastic with the chemicals it contains.
Finally, one afternoon I took the plunge, and after one attempt, I had the hang of poaching eggs in boiling water. I could not believe how easy it was, or how quick. I decided against adding vinegar – I still can’t get my head round that – and added just a bit of salt instead. There are those who will tell you that is the wrong thing to do, but it works for me – and I’ve got the eggs to show for it!
There are so many things you can do with poached eggs, including making a gorgeous starter salad popular in France which I will blog about in the near future. But the real beauty of them is that they are a hot meal you can prepare in under five minutes, and they feel like something special.
This is how easy it is.
You need the eggs to be as fresh as possible, and please, please buy pasture raised , free range or organic eggs. Bring them to room temperature before cooking if you can, but when I’ve been in a hurry I haven’t bothered, and they still turn out fine.
Bring some water to a boil in a large fairly deep frying pan - mine is about three inches deep. If you are just poaching one egg you can use a small saucepan, part filled with water. Add a pinch of salt.
Break the eggs, one at a time, into small ramekins. If you have enough ramekins, it is a good idea to do this first, so that the eggs all go into the water at virtually the same moment.
Gently slide the eggs into the boiling water. You may need to pull the whites together very gently with a slotted spoon if you feel they are moving too far afield, but believe me, they are easily contained.
Cook for two minutes – honestly that is all the time they need if you want them lovely and runny – or three minutes if you like your egg yolks hard.
Carefully remove the eggs from the water using a slotted spoon. Hold them above the water for a few seconds to be sure they are drained. (Nobody likes soggy toast.)
And that is it. It really is that easy. And oh, so delicious.