Do you have a foolproof method for poaching eggs?

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atomicsmoke

Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Apr 3, 2014
4,313
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Toronto, Canada
I've been cooking poached eggs for a long time, but I still don't have a simple foolproof process.

The basic method is hit-and-miss for me. I tried all the tricks: vinegar, vortex ....Sometimes it works other times it will be a mess.

When time is not an issue I would break the eggs in saran wrap. That always works.

If in a hurry I will softboil the eggs and carefully remove the shells.

Recently I bought these silicone "cups". You grease them , drop in boiling water and break the egg in them. They hold a nice shape, no water all over your egg, but if you want the white fully set the yolk will start to set too. So I tried dropping the egg in water (from the silicone cup) when the lower half of the white is set. Still have to drain the egg but I got perfectly set white with liquid yolk.

Do you have anything simpler in your toolkit?
 
The only foolproof method I know of is Sous Vide.

That was the first thing I cooked in my SV machine.

It came out perfect.

Here is a real good video on SV'ing eggs.



Al
 
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On the internet all the SV I saw shows cooking the egg in the shell, removed when some white is not fully set, drain the runny white, drop the shell-less egg in hot water and cook a bit further to finish.

Is this your method too?
 
No, I added a video to my original post.

It's very informative.

I think the egg your looking for is the 62 degree Celsius egg.

Al
 
Does an egg cooked like the one in the video (at 62) slip out cleanly from the shell?
 
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Yes, there is a little skin left in the shell, but otherwise it slides right out.

That was the first egg I tried when I got my SV machine.

Al
 
The fresher the egg the better it will poach, I break my egg into a small cup, put a cap full of vinegar into the boiling water, stir the water and drop the egg into the middle of the pan, if the egg is not fresh the white will go everywhere and if fresh then it'll sit like a ball in the pan, simmer for 2mins 50 seconds = perfect poached egg
 
It is important to use AA eggs. I like two steam poach mine by placing them in an greased ramekin then into a steamer. Depending on the start temperature of the egg and your desired taste, the time in the steamer may take from 3 to 10 minutes. When done they should easily slide out of the ramekin.

T
 
Splash of vinegar in the water, then use the rings from a mason jar to keep the eggs in place. Use just enough water to cover the ring.

Here's a video. Not mine, but shows the process.

 
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For many years, my approach to cooking eggs in any form, including poached, has been based upon the principle, "Very Low and Very Slow".

For 1-4 poached eggs,
  • As Martyn C said, fresh eggs are preferred as they will hold their shape best.
  • To 1 qt. of water, add 1 tbs. white vinegar and 1 tsp. salt. Do not stir the water.
  • Set the pot on a burner and set the flame on low. You want the water at the barest possible simmer with only tiny bubbles breaking on the bottom, and little or no activity on the surface.
  • Add each egg to an individual ramekin, then add them, one at a time to a small fine mesh sieve to let the thin, runny part of the white run off.
  • Add the eggs to the water straight from the sieve, or if you prefer, return them to the ramekins and add to the water from there.
  • The eggs should be perfectly set in 4-5 minutes, but watch closely as it's, obviously, fully dependent on the actual temperature of the water. Ideally, the temperature should not exceed 190F.
  • When the eggs are set to your preference, remove them with a slotted spoon and serve, or reserve for a later use.
As an aside, I did the sous vide egg experiments a few years ago and soon abandoned that project as pointless folly. To me, it was a waste of time, effort, and, on occasion, eggs. Over time, I have developed methods in preparing eggs that are, to my very personal way of thinking, perfect, and nothing that the sous vide method had to offer was anything other than regression.
 
You can always put the eggs straight into iced water when cooked and warm them when ready to eat.

Get yourself chickens, we have and we always have fresh eggs.

Bagel, 2 poached eggs, sauted mushrooms and grilled bacon makes a very yummy breakfast, we have it nearly every day here  

sausage.gif
 
You can always put the eggs straight into iced water when cooked and warm them when ready to eat.

Get yourself chickens, we have and we always have fresh eggs.

Bagel, 2 poached eggs, sauted mushrooms and grilled bacon makes a very yummy breakfast, we have it nearly every day here  

:sausage:
Lol. Chickens would do well in my subdivision size backyard.
 
My how things have changed, my mum tells me  her family kept the chickens in their hall way  and back yard during WW2  over here in the UK 

laugh1.gif
 
My family raised backyard chickens when I was young. Bigger backyard though.

Different times indeed. Driven by need. We'll go back in no time if we have to.

But right now perfectly manicured lawns (not mine), cultivated wild flowers, sculptures , gazebos, outdoor kitchens are the must-have. And you buy the chicken manure from the garden store. Lol

If you dare to step out of line the by-law officer is only a phone call away (from your friendly Neighbour).
 
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Cook's Illustrated decided to tackle this exact problem and came up with a "foolproof" technique that I've been using for several years. I think they said that they went through several hundred eggs before they perfected their process. Here's their video:



Having done this several dozen times, here are the things I have found to be important.

1. The video says to cook for five minutes, but their cookbook and the America's Test Kitchen both say four minutes for a normal egg, and 4.5 minutes for a firmer egg. Five minutes is too long.

2. Make sure to simply lower the cup with the egg in it: don't "pour" it out. If you tip the cup to pour it, the egg will spread out too much. Also, lower the eggs into the pan from the center of the pan, with the cups facing outward. Doing this ensures that the eggs don't all clump together in the center of the pan. The video above shows more of a pouring motion rather than lowering the cup into the pan, and shows the eggs somewhat coming together in the center. Lowering the cup and then sliding the cup out sideways from under egg leaves the egg almost undisturbed at whatever point you lower the cup.

I only put one egg in each cup, and I usually cook only four eggs at a time. I like soft eggs, so I only cook for four minutes.

3. Make sure to include the vinegar. Coupled with my hint above, it will help keep the egg together.

4. Make sure the water is really boiling hard before you turn off the heat and add the eggs.

5. Make sure to start your timer just before you add the eggs. Since you won't remove the eggs until after the timer goes off, and since you may not get to the eggs for 5-10 seconds after the alarm sounds, you avoid adding unwanted extra time by doing it this way.

6. Only lower two eggs simultaneously. Some versions of this CI method show them holding two cups with each hand and lowering them all at once. Since I typically poach eggs for Eggs Benedict, and since I usually serve two eggs per person, having the egg timing separated by 10-15 seconds lets me lift the first set of eggs out when they are done. I put them on the ham/muffin, and by the time I do that (10-15 seconds), the second set of eggs is the same exact doneness.

7. Make sure to cover the eggs as soon as you add the last lot.

One other slight change I've made to their method is that I skip drying the egg out on a paper towel. It is tough to get them back off the towel and I find that just leaving them on the slotted spoon (I use my deep fat fryer spatula, which has long slotted holes) for just a few seconds is just as effective and saves a huge amount of time and a lot of aggravation trying to separate the egg from the clinging paper towel.

So, try this method. You will have to experiment with the time in order to get the degree of doneness you want. I use exactly four minutes for my timing.
 
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atomicsmoke,Just did an experiment for you. Took a couple AA large eggs and cooked them souse vide, in the shell at 147.2° for 1 hour. The result was a white that was set and a yolk that was half-set, just a little runny. They were very good on toast.

T
 
atomicsmoke,Just did an experiment for you. Took a couple AA large eggs and cooked them souse vide, in the shell at 147.2° for 1 hour. The result was a white that was set and a yolk that was half-set, just a little runny. They were very good on toast.

T
Did the shell come off cleanly?
 
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