How to Make The Perfect Poached Eggs

Making the perfect poached eggs can be tricky to say the least,  we have all tried different methods (myself included) more often than not to be left with a stringy mess floating around your pan. There are many reasons for this and we are going to take a look at some of the key mistakes that folks make when attempting to Poach an egg.

It would only be right to start this article with a picture of my own poached eggs which were created with the use of boiling water, vinegar and an egg. 

Perfect Poached Eggs

Lets face it if you stay in any good hotel Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine will be on the breakfast menu , and I don't know about you but I love to come home from any hotel stay and have a good old hotel style breakfast, right here at home. So poaching the perfect egg is essential.

Lets take a look at a few mistakes folks make. The number one has to be water temperature. Remember that the water you are going to poach your eggs in has to be boiling !! All too often is the case that you drop your egg into the pan while the water is not boiling and the white of the egg splits and runs all through the water. 

Poached eggs gone wrong

It is also important to not over fill your pan, you only need enough water to cover your eggs. If you have the pan too full you will wind up with the same result, the white of the egg (Albumen) will just split and run through the water.

It is all about the drop , and here distance is key. So you have a pan of boiling hot water and I am about to tell youDropping a poached egg into the water that you need to get your hand as close to this water as you can before dropping your egg in.  And that's what I mean by distance is the key. If you drop this egg in from any height, again you are going to wind up with a mess in your pan. So it is important to get your egg into the water as fast and as low altitude as possible. 

The egg should start to cook as soon as it enters the water, and it will hold it's shape together. If not then your water is to cold and ...    - Game Over - 

And now we get to the bread & butter section of this article, or rather the Tricks & Tips section. Guess what, there are no tricks and no shortcuts to making the perfect Poached Egg. It is simple and straight forward, water boiling (Not too much water) and low altitude egg drop.

You don't need to have your water spinning like a crazy whirlpool either , all this will do is spin that egg white into a stringy ball. Try it if you like but you will be lucky if this works every time and if it does it is just because the water is boiling and you didn't drop your egg in from a great height.

So we come to the question of Vinegar, do you need it ? No, it the answer, plain and simple. It in no way helps the egg to hold together and is only added to give the eggs some additional flavour. So add it if you like but it is only ever for flavour.

The wrong method of poaching an egg

And finally the question of how you get that egg into the water. In my experience there is no substitute for cracking the egg and dropping it in straight from the shell. In fact I would go as far as to say that this is the best way to do it. At the end of the day you want that egg to stay as tight as possible when it hits the water and putting it into a glass or a ramekin is just going against the grain. All this will achieve is to let the egg open up and spread out, which is exactly what you want to avoid.

So you can do this in a few different ways, once the water is boiling like mad you can turn it down for a few seconds while you get that egg in. I prefer the one handed approach (Most chef's probably do it one handed !) or you can crack it with a knife and part the shell with both hands so that the egg drops into the water. once the egg is in the pan you need to turn the heat back up so that the water continues to boil. 

There it is , the secret to perfect poached eggs..... Well, almost.

Let's finally talk about cooking time. For me the perfect poached egg has to be solid on the outside and runny in the middle. Sounds familiar ? If you think about it this is exactly as you would have a boiled egg. Poached eggs are no different, so when it comes to your timings you can follow the same rules you do for boiled eggs.

Three is the magic number, keep your eggs on a low boil and you guessed it for three minutes. This should leave you with a perfectly poached egg. Nice and soft on the inside.

I enjoy mine on a freshly toasted Muffin or Crumpet with a little cracked black pepper ground on the top.

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