Poaching the perfect egg
I always order poached eggs in cafés, but never dreamt of trying to poach eggs at home. If that sounds like you too then read on – my first work experience as a chef in a busy Hobart café taught me that invaluable life skill – poaching the perfect egg, with the minimum of fuss.
You might hear stories about whipping the boiling water into a frenzied whirlpool…. or that unless the egg is so fresh it was laid that morning there is no point even cracking the shell. Friends may swear by one of the poaching pods, rings, pans or contraptions that litter the shelves of every cookery store worth its (expensive evaporated sea) salt. I say it’s all a conspiracy to raise the fear factor and keep cafes and cookery stores in business!
For the perfect poached Easter egg just follow these 7 steps:
- Take the eggs out of the fridge an hour before you need them.
- Find the deepest pan you have (width less important). Fill 80% full of water with a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons plain white vinegar. Bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile set a timer for 3 minutes (no timer? - try your phone).
- Find as many small cups or bowls as eggs you want to poach. Crack one egg into each cup/bowl so they are absolutely ready to go.
- Have a slotted spoon ready to retrieve your perfect poached eggs and some paper towel to drain excess water/vinegar. Put the plates on standby, get the bread toasted, the butter spread, and the salt & pepper lined up on the table…. A chef would call this ‘mise-en-place’ – having everything in its place.
- When the water is bubbling furiously gently slide the eggs into the water in quick succession, immediately starting the 3 minute timer and turning the water down to a gentle simmer.
- As the timer hits 3 minutes quickly remove each egg with the slotted spoon, on to the kitchen paper. Gently pat dry, remove any trailing bits of white and transfer to the buttered toast.
So don’t be scared, try poaching your eggs this Easter – and just remember, practice makes the perfect poach.
Once you perfect your poaching technique the only decision left is how to serve them to your loved ones and guests. There are the classic combinations of Eggs Benedict (ham), Florentine (spinach) or Royale (smoked salmon) sitting on an English muffin and topped with a rich buttery hollandaise. Some like their poached eggs with mashed avocado, others with fried tomatoes, and others with crispy bacon, but I have always had a soft spot for a poached egg sitting on bubble and squeak with baked beans on the side. Or keep it simple and serve on buttered toast, topped with a spoonful of chilli jam or plum sauce for a subtle kick and parsley leaves for a splash of colour.