Monday, November 05, 2007

Perfect poached eggs

I'm on an egg kick lately, and there's nothing quite like a warm, creamy poached egg to start your day...

Use the freshest eggs you can find. I always look for a sell-by date that is at least a couple of weeks away. The fresher the egg, the better the whites will hold together in the water. I always cook them two at a time, in my 1 quart saucepan. Here's how:

Fill your pot will water to about 2 inches below the top of the pan. Put on the stove, cover, and bring to a full boil. Meanwhile, crack your first egg into a custard cup or similar small dish (this will let you pour the whole egg in at once, instead of in a stream as it would come out of the shell).

When the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and stir to dissolve. Turn the heat to low, and lift the pot off the burner (this ensures that the water won't be boiling when you put the egg in, which would break up the whites). Holding the custard cup very close to the surface of the water, slip the egg in.

Return the pot to the burner, and let the egg cook gently while you crack the next egg into the custard cup. Using a spoon, carefully push the egg that is cooking over to one side of the pan. Slip in the second egg. Let simmer (do not boil!) for five to seven minutes, until the yolk is the desired firmness. Remove with a slotted spoon.

When you pour the egg in, you'll get a little stringiness from the outer whites. Don't be alarmed by this. If your egg is fresh enough, the center white and yolk should hold together nicely in a little pillow.

It takes a little practice to know when the eggs are cooked to your liking, but you can tell by pressing gently on the yolk. When the yolk is runny, it gives easily to gentle pressure (careful not to break the yolk!). As the yolk cooks, it resists the pressure more and more. I like my eggs just a tiny bit runny, so I cook them for about five minutes. Hubby likes his hard, so I cook his for about seven. If you like really runny yolks, you'll probably only want to cook them for three or four minutes.

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