Sunset

I have tried for years to poach eggs. Among the sins I've committed against the egg: sour whites (too much vinegar in the water); rubbery whites (water too hot); a shape that looks like a tentacled sea creature (water not hot enough, or possibly not enough vinegar to set the whites before they trail off).Not to go on about it, but my poached eggs are ugly and unpleasant. Sure, I could resort to an egg poacher. They're available in most cookware and houseware stores. The eggs they produce are shapely, but often when the yolk is perfect, the whites are still jiggly. I really hate that.

Plus, I'm aching to poach. Our just-laid eggs are so perky and fresh, and there is no better way to show off a good egg than to poach it.

That's why I'm so excited to have gleaned two poaching tips recently: the first from Angelo Garro, the blacksmith-forager-cook from The Omnivore's Dilemma, who demonstrated his way with poaching at Slow Food Nation last fall; and the other from our contributor Charity Ferreira, who knows her way around an egg and proved it with a story for Sunset on pasture-raised eggs. Together, their hints make the ultimate, can't-mess-it-up poached egg, with yolk barely set and whites cooked. Here's what you do:

Perfect Poached Eggs

Preamble: Bring water to a gentle simmer (not a boil, which is too violent) in a saucepan, enough to cover your eggs. At the same time, bring about 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a large frying pan (especially useful when you're poaching more than one egg). No vinegar necessary.

1. Simmer in the shell first: Immerse your egg (s) gently into the saucepan of water (I don't have quite enough water in the photo above). Simmer it for exactly 15 seconds. This causes a very thin outer layer of white to firm up and form a delicate casing. Thank you, Mr. Garro.

   

2. Crack the egg right away into a spouted measuring cup. Then touch the spout to the surface of the simmering water in the frying pan and slip the egg in. Getting the egg so close to the water means there's less disturbance of its shape. Thank you, Charity.

3. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the egg is softly set. Lift it out with a slotted spoon (to let the water drain) and slide it onto your plate. It's nice if you've warmed the plate or bowl first, so your egg stays hot.

A perfect poached egg. All you need now is buttered toast.

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