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What Is a Poached Egg?
A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked, outside of its shell, in gently simmering water. It is a delicate preparation that relies on a swirling motion to evenly disperse the heat of the water until the egg whites are just set, and the yolks remain runny. They are most commonly served as the main ingredient of Eggs Benedict, served on toast and draped in hollandaise sauce (find Chef Keller’s recipe here).
How to Poach Eggs
Poaching eggs is a simple enough technique: Start with a deep saucepot that will hold enough water to create a vortex. The swirling water will help the egg white envelop the yolk evenly as the egg white proteins set, creating a nice natural shape. Adding distilled vinegar to the boiling water is essential to help set the egg white.
3 Tips for Perfect Poached Eggs
Practice poaching until you get your perfect shape and your preferred doneness. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Use the freshest eggs. Fresh eggs are best, especially when poaching, since egg whites become more fluid as they age, which leads to those wispy whites in your water vortex.
- Manage your temperature carefully. Water temperature is crucial when poaching eggs: a vigorously boiling hot water will cook the eggs too fast. Small bubbles should be reaching the surface of the water for a rolling simmer.
- Don’t forget the vinegar. Adding vinegar to your simmering water helps the white keep its shape as it cooks.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Poached Egg Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time18 min
Cook Time3 min
Watch Chef Keller demonstrate his technique for poaching eggs here.
- 2 eggs
- 100 grams (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar
- Brioche, sliced
- 4-quart saucepot
- 2 small bowls
- Ice bath
- Slotted spoon
- Small kitchen scissors
- Serving plate
- Bring water and vinegar to a gentle simmer. Taste the water for a slightly acidic taste.
- Crack each egg into separate small bowls. Begin to create a vortex in the water by vigorously swirling the water around the edge of the pot. One at a time, slip the eggs into the center of the vortex. As the egg drops into the water, the egg will set into a teardrop shape. Gently, reinvigorate the vortex and repeat with another egg. (It is best to poach only 2–3 eggs at a time.
- After 2 minutes, gently lift out an egg with a slotted spoon and check that the yolk is soft to the touch. If the yolk is too soft, return it to the simmering water.
- Once the egg has finished cooking, drain the egg on a paper towel. Use small kitchen scissors to trim off the stringy parts of the egg white. Serve the poached eggs on sliced brioche.
Make poached eggs ahead: If you’re making a larger volume of poached eggs, you can poach them ahead of time, leave them in an ice bath, and reheat them in simmering water for 30–45 seconds.
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