How To Poach An Egg

Learning how to poach an egg can strike fear in the heart of even the most confident home chef. Nearly everyone who has tried can share a story about white feathery messes, eggs that have morphed into rubber, or eggs that just won’t set.  While it’s definitely a process of trial and error, learning to poach an egg is actually relative simple, if you follow a few tips and tricks to ensure success. Read on, and you’ll be feasting on poached eggs in less than fifteen minutes.

To poach an egg, you’ll need:

  • An egg
  • A bowl
  • A nonstick saucepan
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • White vinegar
  • Cooking spray or oil
  • A ladle
  • A slotted spoon
  1. Before you even think about poaching an egg, buy fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are more likely to set when you poach them, and they’re less likely to break apart in the pan. When you crack a fresh egg into a bowl, you should be able to see the difference between the thicker white portion and the thinner white portion.
  2. To poach an egg, fill a nonstick saucepan with at least 3 inches of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar for each cup of water. Adding vinegar to the water provides acid, which will make your egg whites set more quickly. This prevents your eggs from feathering and creates a “neater” poach. Place the saucepan on the stove over high heat and bring it to a boil.
  3. While the water boils, prepare your ingredients and your tools. Crack an egg into a small bowl, checking to be sure that none of the shell has fallen into the bowl. If you plan to prepare multiple eggs, repeat this process in individual bowls, setting each aside. Then, spray a ladle with nonstick cooking spray or coat the inside with a small amount of oil.
  4. When the water in your pan is simmering, poach the egg. Gently tip the egg from the bowl into the prepared ladle, and carefully lower it into the water. Move slowly so that water seeps into the ladle but doesn’t rush in and break apart the egg. Keep the ladle slightly angled so that the egg doesn’t float out.
  5. Continue simmering the water and poach the egg until it is set. This will probably take about three minutes, depending upon the size. When it’s ready, the white of the egg should be opaque, and the yolk will still jiggle slightly.
  6. Carefully lift the ladle out of the water. Gently transfer your poached egg into a slotted spoon, letting any water drains away. Your egg is now ready to eat. Transfer it to a serving dish and serve it alone or on toast or an English muffin. Repeat the poaching process with additional any eggs you’d like.
  7. Poached eggs can be prepared up to eight hours in advance. Simply cook each egg as directed, and then place them into a bowl of ice water and put them in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve them, reheat the eggs in hot water for one minute, taking care not to let the water boil.
  8. If you’d like to poach multiple eggs simultaneously, you can purchase individual egg poachers. These perforated non stick stainless steel cups hook to the side of pan, and are available at most home stores. Keep in mind that the more eggs you cook at once, the longer it will take. Include a “test” egg when preparing large batches and watch the eggs carefully until they’re set.
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