“When food is poached, it cooks delicately over the gentlest heat; not a bubble breaks the surface of the liquid in the pan”
--Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food
The first time I ever ate a poached egg was two years ago at Café Fanny, one of my favorite breakfast spots in Berkeley.
In lieu of attempting to emulate Café Fanny’s picture perfect poached eggs, I purchased an egg poacher. I found, however, that simply pouring an egg into a low-sided sauté pan works best.
Now be warned. The whole egg poaching thing takes a bit of practice to master. I am still in the process of tweaking and refining my technique.
Ok here we go.
Poached Eggs a la Alice Waters and Julia Child
Egg (or eggs)
Salt and Pepper
Step one. Crack an egg into an individual cup or bowl. Be careful not to break the yolk.
Step two. Fill a pan with water about 2 to 3 inches deep; add a large splash of vinegar. Let it come to just below a simmer: very hot, but without any bubbles breaking the surface (as you can see some of my bubbles broke the surface—c'est la vie).
Step three. Hold the cup right at the level of the water and carefully slide the egg in. This gentle entry into the water will help the egg keep its shape. Immediately and gently push the white over the yolk with a wooden spoon for 2-3 seconds (I omitted this part…just decided to have my yolk exposed this time around). After a minute you can gently stir the water to discourage the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if the water starts to simmer.
Step four: The egg will take about 3-5 minutes to cook, depending on your egg. The white will be set but the yolk still soft. Test for doneness by gently lifting the egg with a slotted spoon and pressing it gently with your finger to feel how set the white and the yolk are.
Step five: Carefully remove the cooked egg with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
*I chose to drizzle with balsamic vinegar and place my egg atop a nice green salad for a quaint lunch. A delicately poached egg atop a hearty slice of lightly buttered toast is also a favorite of mine! Yum!
**You can poach a few eggs at a time. The same recipe applies. When cooking for a crowd, freshly poached eggs can be kept for a few minutes in a bowl of cool water while another batch is being cooked.