Now that my hens have resumed laying, I have renewed my efforts to make the perfect poached egg. I am a recent convert to runny egg yolks so I have never had much interest in poaching eggs. Once I realized I loved them, I realized I wasn't good at cooking them. I read everything I could find about poaching eggs and have come up with a system that works for me.
1.) The best poached egg are fresh eggs, but not too fresh. You don't want to wait in the coop until an egg is laid, then make a mad dash to the kitchen to poach it. Leave today's egg alone and poach one that is at least a day or two old. I realize that not everyone has fresh eggs from their own backyard, just make sure you get the freshest eggs available.
2.) Let the egg come to room temperature before poaching. Cold eggs take longer to cook.
3.) Gently break the egg into a small dish or ramekin.
4.) Use a deep enough pan to equal about 1 ½ times the height of the egg. I use a small triple-ply stainless steel, non-stick pan made by Palm restaurant and sold by Home Goods. It really works well for frying or poaching eggs.
5.) Heat the water over medium heat until it is gently boiling. If your water is at a full boil, your egg whites will shred, much like the egg drop soup you get at a Chinese restaurant.
6.) For one poached egg, pour about a teaspoon of vinegar into the boiling water before adding the egg.
7.) Use a wooden spoon at the outermost edge of the pan, stir the water in one direction to create a gentle vortex. You just want to get the water going in a circle to keep the egg white mostly intact and to keep the egg centered in the pan. Allow the egg to begin cooking while the water gently boils and the vortex stops. You can gently stir again if the whites begin to float away from the yolk.
8.) Check to make sure your egg is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. I do this by gently lifting it with a plastic spoon. Be careful not to break the yolk.
9.) A soft egg needs to cook for about two minutes, medium about three minutes, and hard about four minutes. After you've made them several times, you will know by the way it looks and feels.
10.) Spoon boiling water over the top of the egg to cook the top of the yolk.
11.) When your egg is done, gently lift it out and place it on a paper towel to soak up the excess water. I also blot the top of mine to get the water from the nooks and crannies. Who wants water-logged toast?
12.) Serve the poached egg atop toasted, buttered bread.
I made these eggs extra special by adding a sprig of fresh thyme as the water came to a boil. I removed the thyme while the swirling was going on, and put it back in to finish with the egg. The subtle taste of the thyme was perfect. I also used seasoned rice wine vinegar in place of the usual white vinegar. I like the taste better.
I served my eggs on white rounds cut from the center of toasted bakery white bread. I seasoned the egg with pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper. A sliced fresh Roma tomato was the perfect accompaniment.
Perfect poached eggs are easy to make with a little practice. The ones you make while perfecting the art are still delicious.