You’ve been to your local café and ordered poached eggs or, if you’re feeling decadent, eggs Benedict, and the eggs you’re served are perfectly cooked, compact and beautifully shaped. You try to replicate the meal at home and your eggs fall apart in the pan and end up looking like soggy cotton wool with an overdone yolk in the middle.
Poached Egg Rules
What went wrong? Chances are you haven’t learned the three rules of making poached eggs:
- Use a shallow pan.
- Keep the heat low.
- Add vinegar to the water.
By following these rules you’ll poach your eggs perfectly every time. Here’s how.
Perfect Poached Eggs
The Right Pan
To cook poached eggs you’ll need a frying pan or skillet, preferably with a lid. In the past you’ve probably figured that eggs need plenty of water to float around in so you’ve used a deep saucepan. All this does is allow your eggs too much movement while they’re poaching and too much movement equals egg whites that turn into long water-logged strings of coagulated albumen.
Take your frying pan and place it on the stove. Fill it about 8 cm deep with water. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a temperature just below simmering. Cooking at too high a temperature may have been another of the mistakes you made in the past. Trying to poach eggs in boiling or heavily simmering water is pretty much the same as throwing them into a blender. Strongly moving water will deform and break up the egg white before it has a chance to solidify.
The Secret Ingredient
Add a good splash of white vinegar to the water (at least two tablespoons). Vinegar accelerates the coagulation of the egg white and helps your egg hold its shape in those vital first few cooking seconds.
Adding the Eggs
Now, here is the final egg poaching tip – crack your egg not into the pan, but into small container like a coffee cup or small bowl. Place the lip of this container just under the surface of the water in your pan and allow your egg to gently slide out. Placing the egg in the water this way prevents the white from disintegrating on impact as it might if you just dropped it into the pan.
Cover the pan and leave the egg to poach for between 2 – 4 minutes, depending on how well-cooked you like your eggs.
Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and hold for a few seconds over the pan to allow it to drain. To remove even more water from your cooked egg you can place it on some paper kitchen towel for a moment or two.
By using a shallow pan, adding vinegar, cooking at a low temperature and by placing your egg in the water gently you’ll make perfect café style poached eggs every time!
To see a demonstration of how to poach eggs check out this video.