Poaching an egg is one of the easiest things to cook in the kitchen. Poaching simply means cooking food by submerging it in simmering water. For eggs especially, it’s important that the water’s not boiling. The big, rolling bubbles that come with a boil.
Albumen. Vortex. Coagulate. These three scary words popped off the page of my notes from culinary school on poaching eggs. With words like that it’s no wonder people are intimidated by cooking.
Scary words aside, poaching an egg is one of the easiest things to cook in the kitchen. Poaching simply means cooking food by submerging it in simmering water. For eggs especially, it’s important that the water’s not boiling. The big, rolling bubbles that come with a boil may break the egg yolk and ruin your attempt at the perfect poached egg, which should be a warm, runny yolk nestled on a cloud of puffy whites.
Six steps to help you poach an eggscellent egg
1. Fill a skillet or saute pan with two to three inches of water. There’s no need to measure, but make sure your pan will hold enough water to completely cover the egg.
2. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat until it simmers. You’ll know you’re simmering when there are lots of tiny bubbles on the surface. Until you get the hang of it, use a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature’s right around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Add about a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar will help the egg whites solidify faster, so they’ll create a cocoon around the yolk instead of spreading out thinly in the water. Darker vinegars will give you the same result, but may add unwanted color or flavor to your eggs.
4. Crack a cold egg into a small bowl, cup or ramekin. This makes it easier to slide the egg gently into the water. The shock of cold egg whites entering the hot water helps firm the whites more quickly.
5. Gently slide one egg at a time into the simmering water. Use a slotted spoon to delicately coax the whites over the yolk. Cover the pan and let the egg cook for three minutes.
6. Use your slotted spoon to lift the egg from the water, draining the egg carefully over a paper towel to get rid of any excess water.
That’s it. No fancy words required. Add eggs to simmering water. Cover and cook for three minutes.
When sliced, your poached egg will yield a rich, eggy lava that will add flavor to toast, an English muffin or a bed of lettuce for a salad with built in dressing.
If you’re poaching more than one egg at a time, add about a teaspoon of vinegar to the water for each egg you’re cooking. To poach eggs ahead of time, remove them from the simmering water and place them in a bowl filled with ice water. The ice water will stop the eggs from cooking and keep your yolks nice and soft. To warm the eggs, use a slotted spoon to lift them out of the ice water and drop them into a pan of simmering water just until they’re warm, about a minute.
Spinach Salad with Poached Egg, Avocado & Sherry Vinaigrette
Serves 2 as a first course or 1 as a main course.
This salad makes a great hearty lunch. The contrast of the tangy sherry vinaigrette and the poached egg’s creamy center is mouthwatering.
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard.
- 1 tablesoon sherry vinegar.
- pinch of salt and pepper.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry.
- half of a medium avocado, chopped.
- 1 tablespoon grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.
- 1 poached egg.
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- Whisk mustard, vinegar and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until well incorporated.
- Combine spinach, avocado and cheese in a large bowl. Toss with a tablespoon or two of vinaigrette. Top salad with poached egg and serve.
Note: You’ll have a little vinaigrette left over. Save it for your next salad!