Saturday, June 02, 2012

Perfectly Poached Eggs

A poached egg is a standard part of my weekend breakfast repertoire.  Sure, sometimes it's destined to be a part of Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.  Even more often though, it's the headliner.  With a piece of toast or an English muffin on the side, it's a healthy way to start the day.

Over the years, I thought I had learned all the tricks of the trade.  Room-temperature eggs. Slowly simmering water. A little vinegar in the poaching water.  And creating a little whirlpool for the eggs as I slip them in.

But thanks to Bon Appetit and superchef Thomas Keller, my poached eggs are better then ever.

One thing I learned was that FRESH eggs are critical.  The white deteriorates as the egg ages, leaving you with tendrils rather than a compact white.

The other shocker was to not just put vinegar in the water, but actually put the eggs in vinegar  for a few minutes before cooking.  It tightens the white and prevents it from spreading out from the beginning when you put it into the pan.

Here's the full recipe.

Perfectly Poached Eggs
Makes two.

1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 large eggs
Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper

Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into each of 2 small bowls. Crack 1 egg into each bowl, taking care not to break yolk; let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Using a whisk, vigorously swirl water until a vortex forms in the center. Slip 1 egg with vinegar into vortex and continue to swirl water with whisk around edges of pan until it returns to a boil. The egg white should wrap tightly around the yolk, forming an oval shape.

As soon as water returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and gently simmer egg, frequently swirling water, for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift egg from water and use kitchen shears to trim any stray pieces of egg white. Place egg on paper towels and gently blot; transfer egg to a bowl or plate. Repeat with remaining egg. (If poaching more than 2 eggs, repeat using fresh water.)

Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Cover; chill. Rewarm in a saucepan of simmering water for 1 minute.

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