Basics: Poached Eggs

Image of a poached egg on toast

Hah, you might say, I don’t need anyone to tell me how to poach an egg. Well, maybe you don’t, but I’ve had umpteen poached eggs in hotels where professional chefs have put vinegar in the water to help the egg set. This is a personal bugbear. Forgive me while I shout for a moment: IT IS NOT NECESSARY! It’s revolting. I don’t want vinegared eggs for my breakfast, especially if I’m treating myself to my favourite, Eggs Benedict.

Nor do you need one of those egg poachers where you butter little dishes, break in the eggs, put on a lid and cook them over simmering water. This is not a poached egg, it’s a sort of coddled egg, and anyway they always get glued into the pot even though it is supposed to be non-stick.

All you need is a pan of gently simmering water …. the bubbles should barely be breaking the surface … a cup to break the eggs into and very fresh eggs. I know that’s easy for me to say because I keep hens, but the fresher the eggs, the easier they are to poach. This is the exact opposite to boiled eggs, especially hard-boiled eggs, which are almost impossible to peel if they’re new-laid.

Image of egg slid into pan via cup

So … make sure your water is at a gentle simmer in a pan big enough to hold all the eggs you want to poach. I use a wide-topped, medium-sized pan. Some people recommend a frying pan but you must make sure it’s deep enough to immerse the eggs in the water.

Break the eggs into the cup one at a time, move the pan to the side of the burner, and slide the eggs gently into the water. Put back on the heat and cook, still at a gentle simmer, for about four or five minutes or until the whites have set and the yolk is still runny. If you’re not sure, lift one out carefully with a slotted spoon and have a look.

It should be easy to tell: the white will be firm and the yolk still wobbly. You can even give it a very gentle poke.

Image of poached egg scooped out with slotted spoon

Scoop out the eggs with the slotted spoon and deposit them onto well-buttered toast. Grind over a little salt and pepper. Breakfast of champions.

14 thoughts on “Basics: Poached Eggs

  1. Yes, I don’t get the vinegar thing either, or that thing about whisking the water into a perfect storm and slipping the egg into the vortex. Yours looks LOVELY.

    • Thank you, Margaret. The only time I tried the vortex thing it looked like the opening titles for Dr Who. I ended up with a floating yolk and lots of strands of separate white.

    • Thanks, Georgina, and thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I detest vinegar in eggs but you’ve probably guessed that already. Good to know I’m not alone.

  2. I do make a vortex. If the eggs are not straight from the henhouse it keeps the yolk perfectly encased in the white. I hate eggs poached in a twist of plastic wrap, sheer madness! It just takes care to poach an egg. I love poached eggs

  3. Thanks for this, because I actually DO need someone to tell me how to poach an egg. How I wish that back when we had dozens of chickens and were overcome with eggs that I had just spent a day practicing, practicing, practicing. As it is, I’m so hit or miss with it that I seldom try anymore!

    • Cheers Michelle. Y’know, for years I avoided poached eggs because of all the conflicting advice but once I got stuck in it was easy. Practice doesn’t always make perfect but nine out of 10 ain’t bad!

    • Seriously, cultivate your local egg producer and get the freshest eggs you can. It really does make a difference. There must be someone in your manor with an Egglu (or however you spell it)!

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