The definitive guide to making perfect poached eggs

Poached eggs on toast with bacon and spinach at The Italian Chef in South Yarra. #breakfast #bacon

That’s right, perfect poached eggs. It’s time, I think, to pull together *dramatic movie dun-dun-DUUHNN* a definitive guide to poaching eggs, beyond the pods.

Since I started writing this blog, through its evolution from pure baking to a more rounded focus, one thing has been a constant. The typefaces have changed, my home has changed, and the URL has changed, but this one thing has, for almost three years, remained the same.

I have consistently been haunted by poach pods.

A little how-to on silicone poach pods has been my most popular post for a long time, and by a huge margin. They’re there 11 months of the year, hanging out at the top of blog stats. Tripping me up when I’m looking at actual recipes. Because, let’s face it, we can do better.

For best results, use the freshest eggs you can, ideally cold – the whites are thicker and so will hold together better in water. (In contrast, eggs that are 7-10 days old are best for boiled eggs as the shell and membrane will peel off more easily!)

What’s the deal with vinegar? Adding a little salt and vinegar to the water (two tablespoons of vinegar per litre of water) you poach in can help to firm up the whites more quickly.

Slow poached eggs

This method, from the inimitable Steph at I Am A Food Blog, means you can prep poached eggs a few days in advance, with none of the mess and very little hassle, as they cook in their shells. Magic.

Get the full lowdown here.

(Image courtesy of Steph!)

The whirlpool

Ah, the fabled whirlpool. This is the one that people are afraid of, the one that seems to require some Hermione-level magic to pull off. Maybe that’s because it’s the method that cookery schools require you to master – either way, this is how it goes.

Fill a saucepan with water  at least 5cm deep and bring it to a simmer. Crack your fresh, cold egg into a cup. Swirl the water around to create the whirlpool, and, as the whirlpool calms, tip the egg into the centre, with the cup as close to the water as possible. Bring the water up to a gentle boil, and once the outside of the white has set, reduce again to a simmer. Poach for 2-3 minutes, lift out with a slotted spoon, and pat dry with kitchen roll.

If making up to 1 day in advance, get the eggs to this point then transfer them to an ice bath and store in the fridge. Reheat by placing in a pan of juuuust simmering water.

The “bare simmer”

Delia’s method, the bare simmer, does basically what it says on the tin. A big pan with shallow water and a timer is all you need – you can even walk away for ten minutes while the hot water works its magic. Full method here.

The Blumenthal

Heston, in classic Heston fashion, has his own way of doing things. No bizarre chemistry paraphernalia or blowtorches needed, though, as instead it’s all about temperature control and draining water whites off. Find the recipe here.

In the microwave

I know, I know, I’m skeptical too, but it’s still an egg in hot water at the end of the day, right? Find out how here.

Poach pods

Alternatively titled, “How to make poached eggs that look a little bit like boobs”

Although they’ve been around for years, poach pods, when I first tried them, were a bit of a revelation – no more trailing egg whites, and I get that elusive beautiful yolk every time. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though – the pods’ packaging was devoid of usage tips, so on the first time I didn’t put a lid on the saucepan, so after 12 minutes cooking all I got was a half raw, half rubbery egg. Parts of the egg were stuck onto the pod too, as I didn’t realise they needed greasing before use.

But once you take these steps, the Pods are easy to use.

Poach

Tips for use

* Lightly grease the pods before use.

* Only half fill the pan you’re poaching in – any more and the water may go over the side of the Pod.

* Cook for 4-5 minutes with the lid on.

* Run a knife around the edge of the egg when cooked to ease it out.

Featured image courtesy of Katherine Lim/Flickr

Filed under All Recipes, Poached eggs, Reviews, Tips & Hints

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door. I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

2 Comments

  1. My goal for this year: master poached eggs with no tools. Usually I make cling film parcels which work brilliantly but it doesn’t look as fancy as Delia would make them. Damn Delia!x

    • Can I tell you a secret? Despite all this, I tend to soft boil rather than poach because it’s so much easier and you still get the awesome yolk.

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