Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunny Side Up: Poaching a good idea

I never thought I would get the hang of poaching eggs by dropping them into simmering water. It sounded disgusting and I bet that it looked worse.

However, here I find myself having perfected the art after some months of practice. About twice a week, I make the LGBB and I good, hearty breakfast of poached eggs on toast. I am always reminded by her not to forget the butter (she is not allowed butter on anything at any other time, with avocado being the usual substitue).

If you have ever thought about trying it but have not yet given it a go (or have done it but weren't altogether impressed with the results), here are a few tips of my own that I always try to remember because it seems to make for a better outcome.

More to the point, if you love poached eggs but have never known (or been game to try) how they get them looking so fluffy and natural in the caf├ęs, you've got to give this a go! Be game, even though it looks rather disgusting and messy...

1. To begin with, start with room temperature eggs. This is the key secret to success, I believe! Crack your eggs into separate containers (I use little ramekin dishes because they're easy to hold and - shhhh - I can cheat if I have forgotten or haven't had time to get the eggs to room temperature, by sitting the little dishes right against the side of the stove while I'm heating their waterbed)
2. Bring a large, deep frypan of water to a simmer. Wait until the bubbles are just forming and rising to the surface.
3. Put your toast in before you put in the eggs. The timing of this will depend on how you like your yolks - really runny, through to hard boiled inside - and will also depend on your toaster and how many slices you put in. As a general rule, I know that if I want to do 3 slices of toast, I need to put them in just as the water begins to bubble so that the toast has popped just as I'm putting in the last egg, which leaves time for buttering.

4. Add a dash (about 1Tbs) of white vinegar to the water.
5. Now for the fun part.... Make a whirlpool in the water so that it is spinning.
6. Then, lower the egg container to the water (I like to submerse the bottom of it briefly before tipping the egg in, I think it helps bind the egg white that little bit more once it's in the water).
7. Gently slide the egg into the stirred water. Sometimes you might need to give an extra little whoosh of the water to keep it going.

The sign of a good outcome is usually that you can visibly see the outer edges of the egg as it blobs there on the bottom of the pan - if it breaks apart instantly and goes to trails of whispy whites, then I know something in the process hasn't been quite ideal (and usually, it's been because I have not let the egg get to room temperature - we keep our eggs in the fridge).

7. Repeat the above process until all eggs are in. I wouldn't do more than 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan.
8. Let the eggs simmer in the water. How long will depend on taste. As a general rule, I've found that 1.5-2 minutes gives quite a runny egg - I don't like them too runny, I prefer to see the yolk cooked around the outside and runny on the inside. For me, I know this takes about 2.5-3 minutes. Experiment with this.

9. Turn the eggs out onto your bread with a slotted spoon, to remove the excess water.

And there you have it! Scrummy!! The biggest letdown of the meal in the case of this photo was the sad, sorry sandwich sliced bread. It's all I had. But the eggs were perfect :)

So go forth, give it a try. If you like poached eggs, you owe it to yourself to give it a go! Tell me how you get on, if you do - I'd love to hear from you!

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