From what I’ve seen around the internet poaching an egg is one of those things that people seem to find hardest to master. Even my mother finds poaching eggs difficult – no matter how many times Ive shown her how to do it.
In multiple forums over the years I have read about various methods, theories and recipes to make the perfect poached eggs. Some suggest that you only use the freshest eggs (but we live in the real world and that isn’t always possible) Others suggest wrapping the raw egg in oiled clingfilm, yet more suggest adding either salt or vinegar to the water – and dont even get me started on whether to use a deep or shallow pan!!
So lets tackle some of the myths….
- Fresh eggs are better – the whites hold their shape better if fresh – but its not the end of the world if they weren’t laid that morning
- Adding vinegar to the water (a SMALL amount) will help the egg hold its shape. Some people state that it makes the eggs taste of vinegar but I’ve never found that the case and suggest that its the amount of vinegar being added thats the issue.
- A gentle simmer will give you best results – if the waters boiling it will make the egg spread.
- I prefer a deep pan – it always gives me good results – but its all about the optimum results for the egg so go with what works for you
- Ive never added salt to the water – I dont think it adds anything and may disrupt the white.
- Wrapping eggs in Cling is a great way to prepare lots of eggs at once and giving you a perfect shape- it is however a load of faff if you only want to do a couple of eggs
So here is my method that has (almost) NEVER let me down….
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Unless your kettle is brand new or fully descaled don’t be tempted to boil a kettle to speed things up as this has been the only time my eggs have failed
Crack your eggs into a cup/mug ready to pour into the pan. (I do this one at a time but feel free to do one mug per egg) the idea is to avoid shell in your water
By now your water pan should be boiling so add a teaspoon of (white wine) vinegar and bring the temp down to generate a gentle simmer.
Next spin the water with a spoon until you see a mini whirlpool.
Drop your eggs into the water one at a time – the whirlpool and vinegar should hold your eggs together
The eggs will stay near the bottom once they stop spinning until they are almost ready – then they will start to bob up – this is your first sign they are ready. if you want firmer eggs leave them in longer.
Take your eggs out of the pan with a slotted spoon and pop them onto a piece of kitchen towel to get rid of any excess water. This important step avoids soggy toast/plate syndrome
I love these served with a grinding of black pepper on toast and maybe a couple of rashers of Bacon.