Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Poached Egg Heck
NYER2LONDON, having seen my excellent article on soft boiled eggs, asks if I have any tips on poached eggs. She does not want to buy an egg poacher, and I agree that unless you are totally gadget obsessed, or you make a lot of poached eggs, that this is something that will just take up space. Poached eggs, a necessary component of eggs Benedict, can be a pain to make at home, as the whites tend to become a runny, goopy mess. I have to admit being at a loss for an answer, so I checked the bible: Julia Child's The Way To Cook. Her first recommendation was to use farm fresh eggs as these will poach easily with no extra work. Of course, unless you live next to a farm, this is not the easiest thing to do. I will give a shout out here to Hautboy Hill Farms (no website, but located at 39 Hautboy Hill Road, Cornwall Hollow, CT 06759 Tel:(860) 672-4495) which sells excellent, thick shelled brown eggs in Connecticut only.
There seem to be three things you can do if you are stuck with older eggs. This means any eggs you buy at the store. The first is to pierce a hole in the fat part of the shell with a pin and boil the egg for 10 seconds prior to poaching. This releases the air and allows the egg to coagulate somewhat prior to poaching. The second is to add vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons per quart of water. The third is to use the dreaded poacher. I tried the first two things alone and together to see what would help.
The pin-prick method did not seem to help very much. I even tried keeping the egg in the water for 20 seconds and still ended up with a feathery, goopy white. Vinegar definitely helps the shape of the egg. The photo above is of an egg cooked in vinegar. The problem is that you need so much vinegar clearly affects the taste of the the egg. You can taste the chemical coagulation caused by the acidity. So if I were prepping for a magazine I would use it, and eggs prepared this way may be tasty enough in a heavily flavored egg dish, such as hollandaise rich eggs Benedict.
It seems the best option may be to head for the farm. Since I don't live near one either, I will try to boil the eggs in shell for 60 seconds prior to poaching and see how this works. I will follow up on this later.