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Q&A -- Poaching Eggs


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Chickenlady, if my understanding is correct, has her own chickens and is getting these eggs into the water within hours of laying.

I'd have to watch the whole process to know what went wrong with chickenlady's eggs. It seems she has had unusual results both poaching and hard-cooking, so it's within the realm of possibility that none of the information I've relayed is entirely applicable to straight-from-the-chicken eggs of this sort. Or, maybe there's something about her equipment that's affecting these processes. I'll try to learn more.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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. . . maybe there's something about her equipment that's affecting these processes . . .

Or the cooking medium. Could hard (i.e. alkaline) water account for what sounds like failure of the white to coagulate properly?

Since there's so much hard water in the US, my guess is that this issue would have been explored by the various test kitchens if it made a big difference. In any event, I'm pretty sure even a small amount of vinegar would overcome it. And it doesn't really sound as though there was a coagulation problem. I'm wondering about the cookware itself -- perhaps it's very thin and too much heat got transferred to the egg as it was sitting on the bottom?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I do have my own flock of chickens, so yes, these eggs are very fresh--both were laid earlier the same day. As to my water, I have well water that goes through a water softener. Former city girl here, so I'm not sure what all that may imply. I really didn't have any problems with the egg setting up as it should, just the one coughed up the yolk when it floated to the top. When my eggs initially sink to the bottom, they stick slightly to the bottom. Perhaps when this one came loose, the white was damaged just enough to allow the yolk to escape. I was using an exceptionally thin enameled sauce pan to heat the water, so that was certainly not ideal. As to my other question: Are eggs supposed to float while poaching?

I promise to do better with omelettes--provided my ladies have done their jobs today! :unsure:

Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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Okay, then, I'm going with a working hypothesis that your saucepan was the culprit in the self-destructing-egg scenario. I'd love to see you repeat the experiment in a thicker piece of cookware.

Eggs tend to sink towards the bottom when poaching, but it's not particularly pronounced, and sometimes they kind of hover and then rise (especially in deeper pots). The density of egg-innards and the density of water seem to be rather close.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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There's a fair amount of fat (lighter than water) in the yolk, and some protein (heavier) in the white and a little in the yolk. Most of the rest of an egg is water. The protein and fat balance each other pretty closely. Eggs with proportionately large yolks will hover (as will untethered yolks, as chickenlady discovered); small yolkers sink.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The preboiling method worked beautifully for me, exactly as promised. I'm thrilled!

Poached egg over roasted cauliflower, red onions, and chickpeas, in the brief moment before being gloriously broken up and running over everything:

i2948.jpg

"went together easy, but I did not like the taste of the bacon and orange tang together"

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Now that is a thing of beauty, and a beautifully poached egg!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Mmm, I had a yummy breakfast this morning of poached eggs on buttered toast. I used my 6.5 quart stockpot (with both vinegar and salt in the off boil water) and even though the eggs aren't as fresh as they were last week (and I did the 13 second Julia pre-boil), and therefore had more straggley bits, the resultant poached eggs were pleasantly round, rather than flat.

i2951.jpg

Poaching Eggs in Stockpot -- I think the roundness happens as it has more time to drop to the bottom of the pot, whites coagulating on its way down, therefore forming around the round yolk, rather than against the flat bottom of the cooking vessel.

i2952.jpg

Poached egg on toast -- you can almost see the wobbliness of the yolk.

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Rachel, those are exceptionally attractive poached eggs. You get an A+ and extra credit.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Ok, not perfect but alot better than I was before this class...

Here they are chilllin in an ice bath 4 out of 6 looking edible..

i2953.jpg

Here is (what i think) the best looking one of the lot...

i2954.jpg

Steak and eggs

i2955.jpg

I think after all of the cooking classes, I need to take a photography course...

Thanks for all the help with the eggs Steven

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As luck would have it, there is an eGCI photography course in the works with a focus (sorry) on how to take great food photos with a point-and-shoot digital camera. It probably won't run for a few months, though.

And those eggs look terrific -- some real successes in there.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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okay, with all this egg poaching, someone must have a great solution for the aftermath....i always find the scum a bit hard to clean off the pan after a poaching session. are there tricks, or do we just soak and scrub? thanks!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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First off, thanks for this and all the other egg classes. eCGI truly is amazing!

So, I tried the Julia method of placing the whole egg in simmering water for about 15-20 sec. then cracking into a small dish to be poured back into the simmering water. When I cracked open the eggs, they had noticeably started to cook (ie there was definitely some white strands amongst the mostly clear albumen). Did I leave these eggs in the water too long? Or are they supposed to be this way? Basically, I'm wondering if the 15 sec. is just to warm up the eggs, or is it actually meant to really start cooking the egg.

Thanks!

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It's meant to really start cooking the eggs (coagulating the whites). A little bit of opaque white here and there is okay.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Back home at last, and this has so inspired me that I'm going to give one more shot at my egg-poaching technique. I am an expert at disastrous poached eggs.

Which led me to try, a few weeks ago, a method of "poaching" that Bourdain mentions in "A Cook's Tour." He mentions that he saw Arzak (I believe) wrap a duck egg and some sort of delectable fat in a piece of plastic wrap, then place the bundle in simmering water. I tried it, and it works, although I did get some funny looks when I was observed tying up a raw egg in Saran Wrap with twist ties.

It was fun, and I suppose that technically I was poaching an egg, in some primitive form of sous-vide. But it was fussy. Back to basics for me, and thank you, Steven.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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what I like about the arzak method is you create a perfect ball with the yolk in the center. The white is evenly cooked and the yolk runneth

0

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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