Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Perfect Poach

I could never poach an egg. A carton of wasted eggs later, I gave up and bought a poacher. It worked great and got me poached eggs on my plate. And all I wanted when I was pregnant were poached eggs sandwiches with cucumber slices! So when Bon Appetit did an article on The Perfect Poach I figured I needed to give it another try. And it worked! 

To quote from Bon Appetit:
Crack an egg, drop it into boiling water, and you'll get a poached egg, right? If it were that simple, there wouldn't be a million egg- poaching gadgets on the market. For clarity, we consulted the perfectionists at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York, where chef de cuisine Eli Kaimeh gave us his number-one piece of advice: Start with a fresh egg. As an egg ages, the white deteriorates, which is why some poached eggs go floppy, surrounded by jellyfish-like tendrils of whites. At Per Se they put the raw egg in vinegar before cooking, which tightens the white so it's less likely to spread out. Instead of dropping the egg into simmering water, they stir the boiling liquid until it forms a whirlpool. The egg is placed in the vortex, creating the compact shape you see at restaurants that can be hard to achieve at home. Then they simmer it for exactly two minutes. That's the magic number to yield a cooked-through yet tender white and a thickened but runny yolk. You want "a lava-like flow of the yolk," says Kaimeh. And lots of buttered toast to go with it.

Here is a step by step guide on how to do it, with images.
Pour 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into each of 2 small bowls. Crack 1 large egg into each bowl, taking care not to break the yolk; let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Using a whisk, vigorously swirl water until a vortex forms in the center.

Slip one egg with vinegar into vortex and continue to swirl water with whisk around edges of pan until it returns to a boil. The egg white should wrap tightly around the yolk, forming an oval shape.

As soon as water returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and gently simmer egg, frequently swirling water, for 2 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, lift egg from water and use kitchen shears to trim any stray pieces of egg white. Place egg on paper towels and gently blot; transfer egg to a bowl or plate.

Repeat with remaining egg.

If poaching more than 2 eggs, repeat using fresh water. 
Season with coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper.

Do ahead. Can be made 1 day ahead. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Cover, chill. Rewarm in a saucepan of simmering water for one minute.

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