How to Poach an Egg

poached egg on tomatoEggs have been on my mind lately and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the arrival of Spring and the colorful eggs of Easter traditions. It could be my admiration for the beautiful Ameraucanas chickens belonging to a neighbor. Or perhaps my preoccupation with eggs is a direct result of a recent trip to a garden center that displayed very fancy chicken coops. That got me dreaming of the day when I can have my own chickens. I found myself longing for one of those little dwellings outfitted with automatic feeders and waterers and boasting such luxuries as copper gutters. Never mind the $5,000 (well, $4,999) price tag because it comes with FOUR chickens! What a deal! Unfortunately, my husband quickly nixed my fantasy of a luxury chicken coop. And it remains to be seen if he’s volunteering to build one for us this year. So for now I will have to settle for enjoying the farm fresh eggs offered by a couple of my neighbors.

Eggs from “Easter Egger” chickens are gorgeous and they have been the subjects of many a private photo shoot at our house -the lucky little models! The photo below is enhanced via Instagram (find my photo stream here if you are interested) but these are actual eggs that have not been colored or dyed. Amazing. Beautiful.

So far I have mastered (I think) the scrambled egg, the fried egg “over-easy” and “over-medium”, and hard-boiled eggs. Next up on the agenda is poached eggs. When I was in Austin, TX recently for Paleo FX, I was able to meet up with a friend of mine for lunch at a restaurant called Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. We ordered from the brunch menu which boasted a number of creative and paleo-friendly (with a little tweaking) dishes. We both chose the Crab Florentine Eggs Benedict – without the English Muffin, of course. It was delicious and ever since then I have been on a mission to recreate this dish at home. The problem is it requires the skill to successfully poach eggs and this is something I had yet to master.

In searching the internet for poaching methods I came across one that advocated swirling the water with a spatula prior to slipping in the egg. It sounded like a good idea because it supposedly creates a vortex that helps the egg white swirl into place with the yolk. Unfortunately, this method utterly failed….a few times. It’s a good thing I like eggs because I ate some really gnarly looking “poached” eggs during the trial and error and error and error stage. In spite of the epic failures, by ensuring the water remained still, the fourth time was a charm. MUCH better than the first few tries.

paleo poached egg

Here’s the basic process I used:

How to Poach an Egg

  1. Break eggs, one at a time, into individual small cups or ramekins.
  2. Heat some water, about 3 inches, in a large saucepan to almost boiling and adjust the temperature so that the water remains at a steady state of barely simmering.
  3. Place a small amount of white vinegar in the water. (This aids in the egg coming together.)
  4. Hold each small bowl close to surface of the hot/simmering water and, one by one, gently slide the egg(s) into the water. Do NOT stir.
  5. Cook the egg(s) for 3-5 minutes. The whites should be set and the yolk thickened with a warm center. You may choose to turn the egg over for more even cooking.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg(s) and drain on a paper towel.
  7. Serve immediately.paleo poached egg

My youngest boy, Nathaniel, enjoys eggs and it makes me really happy that he appreciates good food. He was definitely excited about the simple poached egg with salt and pepper on a couple of slices of fresh tomato. He’s such an adventurous eater. Next thing you know he’ll be eating duck feet. Oh wait, he already did that!

He’s looking forward to the Crab Florentine recipe yet to come. Stay tuned!

Have you had success making poached eggs? Do you use the “swirl” method or the “still water” method? Vinegar?

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11 thoughts on “How to Poach an Egg

  1. excellent explanation, beautiful photography and super impressive darling son!

    I had shirred eggs at a B and B once. super good. think you can try those then show us how?

  2. Your “failures” brought me some LOLs! Not because you failed but you are funny, and the pic was funny. But as usual, love your writing and pics. Oh, and your eggs — will have to try that when the time comes . . . for poached.

    Sharon

    • Sharon,
      Thanks for the compliments. It was actually pretty comical even at the time. I inadvertently made some egg drop soup as well.
      Lea

  3. When I was growing up, we had an “egg poacher” – a pan w/an insert w/3 holes, each holding a little cup. We put water in the pan, affixed the insert, put the cups in the holes, added a little butter, and then broke an egg into each cup. I can’t remember if there was a lid or not. It worked perfectly every time – but it was another piece of equipment, albeit small :)

    • Hi Marbara,
      I saw one of those for sale just the other day and briefly pondered buying it. But my kitchen is somewhat lacking in storage so I decided I would try to do it without the little pan. Although my family seems to really be enjoying poached eggs so I could see myself getting one of those in the future. It would probably work well if you need several to be ready at the same time – that would be nice. Doing it in the pot with more than 2-3 seems stressful somehow. :-)

      • I just realized that the poacher was probably the only piece of specialized kitchen equipment we had so storage wasn’t an issue :)

        • If you like poached eggs it makes total sense. I’m getting close to being finished with a Crab Florentine Eggs Benedict recipe and if it becomes a staple I will definitely be investing in a poacher!

  4. Eggs Benedict is amazing over salad greens instead of bread :) Super yummy….I got the idea originally from Primal Blueprint Cookbook. Also…you can make a large batch of Poached Eggs and ‘slightly’ undercook them. Put them in ice water to stop the cooking, and then store them, in water, in the fridge. When you are ready to serve them you just take one or two out, put them in simmering water for a minute or so, and wha-la…they are ready :)

    • Torie,
      Thanks for the idea about how to pre-cook some eggs. That will be a great technique to use when trying to serve several at once. Love it!
      Lea

  5. I have found an easy way to cook eggs without having to use so much water. I take a small frying pan and add enough water to cover the entire bottom. I heat it on medium to medium high heat. When I see the water is boiling, I crack my egg into the pan, season it, and then place the lid on top. I let it cook until the lid starts to shake on top and after about 30 seconds or so (for runny yoke) and then scoop it out gently with a slotted spoon. I’ve never had success trying the true poached route but this works every single time and the kids love them.

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