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Poached Eggs Redux


maggiethecat
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Okeydokey - it's poached eggs for dinner one night this week. I always seem to follow your lead egg-wise, Maggie (I would do well to widen that to everything-wise :biggrin: ). When you wrote about soft boiled eggs, I hunted up a store that still sold egg cups and we had soft boiled eggs until Mr. Kim started to cluck. Poached are a favorite of mine, though, so I'll try this soon.

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This is the way I poach everything (fish, chicken, hardboiled/softboiled eggs) but for some reason I never tried it with eggs out of the shell. I've done about a dozen eggs this way over the past week after reading this thread. It works every time, even with average eggs of questionable age and without acidulating the water. This is the easiest most consistent method.

Thanks for the tip!

nunc est bibendum...

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This is the way I poach everything (fish, chicken, hardboiled/softboiled eggs) but for some reason I never tried it with eggs out of the shell. I've done about a dozen eggs this way over the past week after reading this thread. It works every time, even with average eggs of questionable age and without acidulating the water. This is the easiest most consistent method.

Thanks for the tip!

Thanks! I've tested this many times since I first posted this topic -- it is consistent.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Used this method again today... A couple of pictures , although not very good ones as the lighting was giving the camera the fits , and more importantly I was hungry. on top of a salmon cake with garlic chilli sauce.

GEDC2629.JPG

GEDC2625.JPG

Edited by Ashen (log)

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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And now for the next method. Heston Blumenthal went through his recommendation on his new show (How to cook like Heston). His method? Invert a plate in your saucepan so the egg never touches the bottom of the pan. Drain membrane by putting cracked egg on slotted skimmer. Heat water to 80C (176 F) and hold it at this temperature. Add egg. Leave cooking in water for four minutes. Remove, serve. Perfect white, perfect runny yolk.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Here's what we've been doing. Cold poached eggs. Works like a charm but you do have to plan for it since it takes about 13 to 15 minutes to cook. Put cold water in your skillet and crack the eggs into the water. We usually do this with 4 eggs. Turn on the heat to medium high. Leave them alone. The water will start to simmer. Check at 13 minutes and they are probably done if you want them a bit runny. Lift out with a slotted spoon and pat the eggs dry with a paper towel. No need to add acid to the water. Sounds crazy, I know, but it really works.

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And now for the next method. Heston Blumenthal went through his recommendation on his new show (How to cook like Heston). His method? Invert a plate in your saucepan so the egg never touches the bottom of the pan. Drain membrane by putting cracked egg on slotted skimmer. Heat water to 80C (176 F) and hold it at this temperature. Add egg. Leave cooking in water for four minutes. Remove, serve. Perfect white, perfect runny yolk.

Having tried a lot of poaching methods when I was working on an article on poached eggs, I'm guessing that the purpose of the plate is to keep the egg from overcooking on the bottom before the top cooks. That's the main problem I had with poaching at lower temperatures -- the egg sits on the bottom of the pan and cooks unevenly.

Many chefs and authors (including, as I recall, James Peterson) use the method Maggie espouses. It worked okay for me, but I found that my poaching pan retained so much heat that the water continued to boil after I turned the heat off, and the lid intensified the effect. There was enough turbulence in the water that the whites tended to shred.

I do prefer a temperature just under the boil and I had pretty good results at that temp with or without vinegar and salt in the water. The method I settled on (described here in my article) was to add a small amount of vinegar and salt to the poaching water, which makes the eggs bob up to the surface of the water as they cook. That seems to guarantee that the eggs cook evenly -- since they don't sit on the bottom of the pan, the bottom side doesn't overcook. Since it's not much vinegar or salt, I didn't notice any difference in taste from eggs cooked in plain water.

The other element of my method -- draining the thin white off before cooking -- is primarily for aesthetic reasons. You end up with nice compact ovals without having to trim off any stray whites. While we did pick from about 10 poached eggs for the photos in the article to get the nicest looking ones, we didn't have to trim any of them -- that's how they came out of the water.

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Here's what we've been doing. Cold poached eggs. Works like a charm but you do have to plan for it since it takes about 13 to 15 minutes to cook. Put cold water in your skillet and crack the eggs into the water. We usually do this with 4 eggs. Turn on the heat to medium high. Leave them alone. The water will start to simmer. Check at 13 minutes and they are probably done if you want them a bit runny. Lift out with a slotted spoon and pat the eggs dry with a paper towel. No need to add acid to the water. Sounds crazy, I know, but it really works.

So despite my skepticism I had to try your way and it works:

cold poached eggs.jpg

eggs broken.jpg

BUT...................................................................

pan.jpg

Getting this puppy clean will pose quite a challenge!

Do you end up with a major pan cleanup?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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And now for the next method. Heston Blumenthal went through his recommendation on his new show (How to cook like Heston). His method? Invert a plate in your saucepan so the egg never touches the bottom of the pan. Drain membrane by putting cracked egg on slotted skimmer. Heat water to 80C (176 F) and hold it at this temperature. Add egg. Leave cooking in water for four minutes. Remove, serve. Perfect white, perfect runny yolk.

Having tried a lot of poaching methods when I was working on an article on poached eggs, I'm guessing that the purpose of the plate is to keep the egg from overcooking on the bottom before the top cooks. That's the main problem I had with poaching at lower temperatures -- the egg sits on the bottom of the pan and cooks unevenly.

Many chefs and authors (including, as I recall, James Peterson) use the method Maggie espouses. It worked okay for me, but I found that my poaching pan retained so much heat that the water continued to boil after I turned the heat off, and the lid intensified the effect. There was enough turbulence in the water that the whites tended to shred.

I do prefer a temperature just under the boil and I had pretty good results at that temp with or without vinegar and salt in the water. The method I settled on (described here in my article) was to add a small amount of vinegar and salt to the poaching water, which makes the eggs bob up to the surface of the water as they cook. That seems to guarantee that the eggs cook evenly -- since they don't sit on the bottom of the pan, the bottom side doesn't overcook. Since it's not much vinegar or salt, I didn't notice any difference in taste from eggs cooked in plain water.

The other element of my method -- draining the thin white off before cooking -- is primarily for aesthetic reasons. You end up with nice compact ovals without having to trim off any stray whites. While we did pick from about 10 poached eggs for the photos in the article to get the nicest looking ones, we didn't have to trim any of them -- that's how they came out of the water.

Great article. I'll be making that duck hash some time soon. It inspired me to take some left over pot roast and make pot roast hash topped with a poached egg. Next up is duck!

nunc est bibendum...

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Do you end up with a major pan cleanup?

I've done this several times since this thread started, using about a dozen and a half eggs and haven't had any problems. I've done two eggs at a time in a 1.5qt stainless saucepan with aluminum disc base and four in a 3.5qt of the same brand and model (Cuisinart classic). The only thing to clean is dumping out the water and wisps of egg.

What did you have to clean up? Did the eggs stick at all?

nunc est bibendum...

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Do you end up with a major pan cleanup?

I've done this several times since this thread started, using about a dozen and a half eggs and haven't had any problems. I've done two eggs at a time in a 1.5qt stainless saucepan with aluminum disc base and four in a 3.5qt of the same brand and model (Cuisinart classic). The only thing to clean is dumping out the water and wisps of egg.

What did you have to clean up? Did the eggs stick at all?

Bottom of pan was caked with albumen though the eggs themselves did not stick. Put pan back on heat with some dishwasher detergent and it is pretty much cleaned up now. It is an excellent stainless steel pan and I use induction as my heat source.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Do you end up with a major pan cleanup?

I've done this several times since this thread started, using about a dozen and a half eggs and haven't had any problems. I've done two eggs at a time in a 1.5qt stainless saucepan with aluminum disc base and four in a 3.5qt of the same brand and model (Cuisinart classic). The only thing to clean is dumping out the water and wisps of egg.

What did you have to clean up? Did the eggs stick at all?

Bottom of pan was caked with albumen though the eggs themselves did not stick. Put pan back on heat with some dishwasher detergent and it is pretty much cleaned up now. It is an excellent stainless steel pan and I use induction as my heat source.

JAZ mentions some problems with overcooking the bottom of the eggs maybe because of her use of a better pan than I used and I wonder if that's what gave you problems too. The pan I used is fine but not excellent: maybe that's the key?

nunc est bibendum...

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Do you end up with a major pan cleanup?

I've done this several times since this thread started, using about a dozen and a half eggs and haven't had any problems. I've done two eggs at a time in a 1.5qt stainless saucepan with aluminum disc base and four in a 3.5qt of the same brand and model (Cuisinart classic). The only thing to clean is dumping out the water and wisps of egg.

What did you have to clean up? Did the eggs stick at all?

Bottom of pan was caked with albumen though the eggs themselves did not stick. Put pan back on heat with some dishwasher detergent and it is pretty much cleaned up now. It is an excellent stainless steel pan and I use induction as my heat source.

JAZ mentions some problems with overcooking the bottom of the eggs maybe because of her use of a better pan than I used and I wonder if that's what gave you problems too. The pan I used is fine but not excellent: maybe that's the key?

I believe that Anna is talking about the method of starting in cold water that Varway mentioned, not the original method. My guess is that in cold water, the thin albumin separates out, sinks and cooks on the bottom of the pan as the water heats up. In hotter water, the eggs sometimes sink and sit on the bottom of the pan, but they don't stick.

And although my usual poaching pan does have a heavy bottom, I've poached eggs in all kinds of pans and have found that with the vinegar and salt in the water, eggs don't stick regardless of the pan.

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I believe that Anna is talking about the method of starting in cold water that Varway mentioned, not the original method. My guess is that in cold water, the thin albumin separates out, sinks and cooks on the bottom of the pan as the water heats up. In hotter water, the eggs sometimes sink and sit on the bottom of the pan, but they don't stick.

And although my usual poaching pan does have a heavy bottom, I've poached eggs in all kinds of pans and have found that with the vinegar and salt in the water, eggs don't stick regardless of the pan.

Ah I see I thought we were talking about the heated water turn off the flame method. My thinking about using a heavier pan was merely that a pan with a stainless clad aluminum core would retain more heat and lead to overcooking the bottom of the egg and somehow also cause the albumin problem Anna's having. My pans, being less heat retentive, can be brought down from a hard boil to a bare simmer in a few seconds which would make the OP's method easier perhaps.

I guess if we're talking the cold water method what must have happened is that the albumin spread itself flat against the bottom of the pan and cooked there into a thin, hard sheet.

nunc est bibendum...

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Lovely salad there Anna N! :) Hope I could try that out as well.

Thank you. It was truly an "ad hoc" salad made from what was at hand - some bacon bits, some romaine, some heritage-style??? tomatoes, poached eggs and a zesty dressing that included soy sauce and worcestershire! I am sure the salad gods are writhing in agony but it was tasty and relatively healthy. I am trying to make more salads especially for my evening meal as I seem less inclined to go to sleep immediately after dinner if I have a salad. :laugh:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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....

I guess if we're talking the cold water method what must have happened is that the albumin spread itself flat against the bottom of the pan and cooked there into a thin, hard sheet.

Definitely the cold water method. It seemed so unlikely to work that I had to try it and damn, it did work but the pan had a film of egg white firmly attached. It came off easily enough with a soak in dishwasher detergent. I just wondered if this was happening to others who tried this cold water method.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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  • 2 months later...

Am I cheating by using the cling film method? :unsure:

I came across a method that might be even easier than the cling film method... I've got four oven-safe ramekins that fit in a large pot. Put them in, cover with water a half inch or an inch or so above them, and heat it up. When ready, crack the eggs in another ramekin, then rather than the whole "slip gently into the water and hope it doesn't run into the others or spread out," just pour them into one of the submerged ramekins. Works great, and you don't have to mess with making a vortex or anything.

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Am I cheating by using the cling film method? :unsure:

I came across a method that might be even easier than the cling film method... I've got four oven-safe ramekins that fit in a large pot. Put them in, cover with water a half inch or an inch or so above them, and heat it up. When ready, crack the eggs in another ramekin, then rather than the whole "slip gently into the water and hope it doesn't run into the others or spread out," just pour them into one of the submerged ramekins. Works great, and you don't have to mess with making a vortex or anything.

Dan, how long do you poach them for? I assume the water is kept at a simmer?

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Dan, how long do you poach them for? I assume the water is kept at a simmer?

Yes, a simmer, and regular poaching time, say 3-4 minutes. Really, all the ramekins are doing are providing walls slightly below the water surface level, preventing the multiple eggs from mingling. I haven't done it recently, and I can't find a good picture online, but think of something like this, but with a higher sided pot and the ramekins fully submerged. The poached eggs are still floating, so you don't get the strange textures and imprints that result from normal egg poachers (or, likely, the method shown in that link), but they stay compact and separate without any effort.

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Si I tried Dan's method today using ramekins. Or rather, a ramekin. I did up one egg for lunch and I managed to overlooked it a bit. I detest runny whites and at the 4 minute mark they still looked runny so I gave them another minute, which was 30 seconds too long. Nice tidy way of making poached eggs.

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