Cooking Made Simple: How to Poach Eggs

The egg is one of the world’s favorite foods, but until you have tasted these delicious food items poached you have really never lived.

Make no mistake, this article is a not a referendum against scrambled eggs or fried eggs, which are both delicious, but there are many benefits to eating your eggs poached, provided they are cooked correctly.In the following article we will outline the best manner in which to poach eggs, describing the process in great detail. We will also discuss some of the benefits of poached eggs as a breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) super food.

Why Eat Poached Eggs: The Benefits

If you have ever eaten a poached egg you already know how delicious they are. What you may not know is that eggs cooked in this manner are also a healthier option as compared to eggs cooked using different methods.

Poached eggs are cooked directly in water, rather than a greased pan. This means they have no added fat whatsoever. Of course, some healthy fats are part of a well-rounded diet, but when you cook your eggs in butter, margarine or oil of some kind you are also adding a lot of calories (believe it or not, there are 100 calories or more in a single tablespoon of butter).

Simply put, when eggs are poached it means all of your ingested calories are coming from the egg itself, and in most cases, a single egg has just 140 calories. Therefore, by switching to poached eggs for breakfast you can avoid all of the extra calories you normally take in—fat calories that can quickly expand your waistline and cause a myriad of health problems.

How to Poach Eggs

There is nothing better in the breakfast world than the sight of soft, runny poached eggs oozing effortlessly over lightly buttered toast. Not only is this one of the most delicious treats you can enjoy, it is also a very healthy and low-cal option. To help you achieve perfection with every egg you poach, below we have outlined a sure-fire method for cooking for these tasty treats—an easy method that just may cause you to say goodbye to scrambled or fried eggs forever.

What You Will Need

To cook the perfect poached eggs for two, you will first need to assemble the following ingredients and utensils:

Ingredients:

  • 4 fresh eggs at room temperature (for best results you may want to use free range eggs).
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar, fruit-based vinegar or white wine vinegar (either of these will work just fine).
  • A pinch of water
  • Boiling water

Utensils

  • A deep-bottomed pot of some kind
  • A slotted spoon
  • Four espresso cups or regular coffee cups

To complete this recipe, you can expect about 3 minutes in prep time and another 3 minutes in cooking time, which means your eggs will be ready to serve in just 6 or 7 minutes.

Preparation and Cooking Directions

Step 1: Boil the Water

Using a kettle, boil enough water to fill your deep bottomed pot about ¾ of the way to the top.

Step 2: Prepare the Water

Once the water has boiled in the kettle, pour the hot water into the deep bottomed pot and set it on a burner over medium heat. Allow the water to simmer lightly.

Step 3: Add the Salt and the Vinegar

With the pot of water simmering on the burner, add just a pinch of salt to taste. Next, add a splash of whichever vinegar you have decided to use.

Step 4: Prepare the Eggs

Using your coffee or espresso cup as the receptacle, crack the first egg into the first cup. Continue this process until you have cracked each of the four eggs into the four respective cups.

Step 5: Lower the Eggs

With the water on the pot simmering over a medium heat, take the first cup and begin lowering it into the simmering water. Hold the cup by the handle, and tip it slightly when it is just over the water, enabling the egg to “slide” into the simmering water gently. Do not splash the egg into the water, as this may cause the yolk to break upon entry.

At this point you may cook one egg at a time—although that will increase the overall time of cooking—or you can repeat the process with each of the four eggs, until all four are simmering on the top of the water.

Step 6: Simmer the Eggs

With one, two or all four eggs in the water, you will now want to simmer them for two minutes—no more and no less. Timing is very critical here, so be sure to set a timer so you know exactly when the two minutes have expired.

While the eggs are simmering, you can use the slotted spoon to gently shape the eggs, being careful to avoid breaking the yolks. If you are cooking all four of your eggs at once, take care that the eggs are not touching each other as they simmer.

Step 7: Finish the Cooking Process

Once the timer rings, indicating that two full minutes have expired, turn the heat off from under the deep bottomed pot. Set your timer again, this time for one minute, and allow the eggs to continue to simmer with the heat off for that minute.

Step 8: Remove the Eggs from the Water

Using your slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the hot water. Do NOT attempt to remove more than one egg at a time. This is sure to break one or both of the yolks. Instead, remove one egg from the water at a time.

Step 9: Serve

In this step, you have a lot of options based on your preferences. Poached eggs taste very good, however, when placed atop a lightly buttered piece of toast—whichever type of toast you prefer—or on a toasted English muffin.

Finish by topping them with fresh ground pepper and just a pinch of salt and you have a delicious breakfast for two. If you are a more advanced cook, you may opt to top the poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, effectively creating what is known as Eggs Benedict, an absolute treat for the palate.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Poached Eggs

Now that you have learned how to make the perfect poached eggs, let’s talk for a minute about the ingredients and utensils we used and the reasons we recommended them.

Why Vinegar?

You may be wondering why we asked you to use a splash of vinegar when cooking poached eggs—and you may be wondering why we suggested the types of vinegar we did. Let’s tackle the second question first. Using light-flavored vinegar—like apple-cider or white wine vinegar—ensures that the vinegar doesn’t overpower the heated water, leaving your eggs tasting vinegary. Other vinegar types, such as some of the malted vinegars, would be much too harsh for this process.

Using vinegar has long been a trick of professional chefs who regularly make poached eggs. Here is why: Egg whites need to be heated up to a certain temperature in order to coagulate or set correctly. However, when you lower the pH in the water (or in any cooking liquid) you actually lower the temperature required for the coagulation or setting up of the egg whites.

Because vinegar is really just flavored acetic acid (and thus very acidic), a simple splash of it will help lower the pH in the water. Because of this, the egg whites will set up faster in lower temperature water, which leads to the gooey consistency of poached eggs that we all love so much.

Why Espresso Cups or Coffee Cups?

Espresso cups, if you have them lying around the house, make perfect receptacles when preparing eggs to be poached. Regular coffee cups can also do in a pinch. The reason behind using these cups is they help to mold and shape the egg. Keeping the eggs in these cups until they are ready to be lowered into the water helps the eggs maintain their round shape. Many retail outlets sell specific poached egg cups that are specifically designed for this purpose.

Why “Fresh” Eggs?

It is no secret in the culinary world that “fresh” eggs make for the best poached eggs, but how can you be sure that the eggs you are planning to use are fresh?

Here are the steps you should follow to check:

  1. Fill a bowl up with cold water. Make sure the bowl is a fairly deep one.Place the (un-cracked) egg into the bowl of cold water, being as gentle as possible not to crack it.
  2. If the egg sinks, it is fresh. In fact, the fresher it is the lower it will sink
  3. If the egg floats, it is probably not as fresh. In fact, if it floats all the way to the top, it might be time to toss that egg out.

Older eggs tend to accumulate more air inside as they age. Thus, when they are placed in the water they tend to float. Fresh eggs are much denser. Because of this, fresh eggs tend to sink down into the water, with the freshest of eggs sinking all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

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