I’ve Cracked It: How To Make A Poached Egg

How to Poach An Egg

Have we been fooled into believing that poaching an egg is best left to the expertly trained chefs at The Savoy or The Park Lane. Is that why so few of us ‘cooks’ dare attempt it? Perhaps, but consider this:

Firstly: In a quarter of a second, Google found 1,500,000 results for How To Poach an Egg. When so much advice is to hand, I’m often led to think that no one knows how to do it properly. Next: Nearly every online newspaper has an article harking and barking the faults of other poaching methods. Those same newspapers then offer their readers their own no-fail methods of poaching an egg in the same article. Thirdly: Nearly every supermarket and kitchen shop sells egg poaching gadgets (those little cups used in a double-boilers and steamers) that are worthless. Lastly: the latest idea, to crack an egg into cling film and pop it in simmering water, doesn’t produce a pretty poached egg. It’s a messy affair not suitable for public viewing.

With so much typeset air space dedicated to one subject, it seems obvious that one thing’s true:

Poaching an egg isn’t as easy as the experts tell us. If it was easy, newspapers wouldn’t find it newsworthy and shops wouldn’t sell oodles of gadgets that simplify the process.

So, what do you think: Does this poached egg on my homemade toasted English Muffin Bread look just about perfect to you?

poachedEgg_17Apr12 (800x618)

I’ll tell you what – it is. Perfect. I followed The Guardian’s article on How To Make A Perfect Poached Egg but I made one small tweak. I used a tea strainer!

Misky’s Method of Poaching an Egg

Place a small tea strainer over a teacup. Crack the egg into the strainer so that all (if any) detached watery egg white slips through the fine mesh. The substance that strains through into the cup is what causes all the eggy stringy stuff floating in the water. Now dump out any strained watery whites from the cup, and carefully slide the raw egg from the strainer into the teacup. When the pot/pan of water comes to a strong simmer (not boiling), take a balloon whisk (it must be a whisk, not a spoon or a fork) and rapidly rotate the water in the pan along the outside edge (not the middle) until a whirlpool vortex forms in the centre of the pan – keep stirring until it’s strong and constant, and then stop stirring … quickly but gently slip the raw egg into the vortex. Turn the heat down as low as possible. Slap the lid on tight. Set the kitchen timer for 3 minutes. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and start toasting your bread.

How do you make a poached egg? Or perhaps you don’t because you think it’s too difficult? Let me hear from you; I’d love to know how you make your poached eggs. With vinegar; no vinegar? Salt, no salt?

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. Choclette says:

    Bother, we’ve just had our breakfast and now I’m raring to have a go at making your method of poached egg. Yours certainly looks like a perfect one. I’ve tried so many different ways and I’ve never come up with anything I’m happy with. I even bought some silicone poacher things, but they don’t do it for me either. I’ve never come across the tea strainer tip before. Thank you, great post.

    1. Misky says:

      Hi Choclette, I hope you do manage to try it. As you can see, Gloria was quite pleased with her result. That strainer makes all the difference in the final result! And that silicone poachers are rubbish in my opinion. I tried it, and the egg stuck fast it to. Pffft.

  2. Gloria Nicol says:

    Just poached my morning egg miskcooks-stylee and it came out perfect. The tea strainer trick made all the difference so thanks for that.

    1. Misky says:

      Excellent, Gloria! I’m so glad you had time to try it. I’m hoping that Choclette does too. That little change made all the difference in how I poach eggs now. 🙂

  3. Glenda says:

    Looks good to me – I will give it a burl.

    1. Misky says:

      Fab! Tell me how you get on with it. The trick is the tea strainer. 🙂

  4. I never attempt poached eggs because they are so hard! Your post has encouraged me with some great tips 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Misky says:

      I’m glad that this post might prompt you to try. It’s so easy, and it’s good to try things that you think you can’t manage. I mean, a few years ago, I didn’t think I could EVER make homemade bread! And, WOW, I can!

  5. heidiannie says:

    Thanks for the tips- I will try this way next time!
    But I really want what you have photographed- the homemade English muffin bread toasted with the perfect egg on top.

    1. Misky says:

      Sorry, all eaten up! 😀

  6. Fantastic, Misky… I get the best tips from you!

  7. Tandy says:

    I love the tea strainer idea! My best ever poached egg has been after a glass of wine! Now I have poaching pods to make it easier 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      I’m not sure that I’m safe near a gas cooker after a glass of wine. 😀

  8. Joanna says:

    will try and let you know, lovely post Misk 🙂

    1. Misky says:

      Please do, and let me know. Gloria tried it, and said it was a success! Thanks for lovely comment. 🙂

  9. barb19 says:

    Never heard of the tea strainer method before. We have poached eggs on toast twice a week – have done for years and they turn out perfect every time. My mother always used vinegar in the water which keeps the egg white together, just a drop. Bring the water to the boil before cracking the egg into the water – the hot water helps to set the egg too. Turn heat down to simmer, put a lit on the pan and leave for a couple of minutes – yummy!

    1. Misky says:

      yummy indeed! The tea strainer method is particularly useful if your eggs aren’t that fresh. The whites detach from the membrane, and by straining you get rid of that. 🙂

      Thanks for posting your comments and sharing your experience of poaching eggs!

  10. dianadomino says:

    I read a post earlier today that suggest left-over pickle juice in place of the vinegar.

    I love Eggs Benedict, so I had to learn to poach eggs. I will have to try the tea strainer, though, because I HATE those streamers that appear…

    1. Misky says:

      Do you use vinegar when poaching your eggs? I can always taste it, no matter how little I use. When you use the strainer method, no vinegar is required. 🙂

      1. dianadomino says:

        I don’t mind the taste of the vinegar, but will definitely try it without. Maybe I’ll like it better that way! (And I admit to being curious about the pickle juice…I like garlic, so the garlicky pickle juice might taste good…)

        1. Misky says:

          The garlic flavour might work well with a Spanish or Mexican lint, salsa and chillies … maybe for Cinco de Mayo!

  11. Janet W says:

    I just tried this, only with two eggs. I was really hungry and didn’t want to wait the extra minutes. It worked except that the eggs looked like egg versions of comets. The white “tail” was trailing behind the yolk “body.” Next time I’ll do one at a time.

  12. Russell says:

    Its an interesting Idea, but in a sense you waste a great deal and I view it as a gadget as well. Poaching egg’s isn’t really a big secret, its more like you said, so many put their ways out there, the original gets buried. I’m still going to try your way to see how it looks and exactly how much I waste. That being said, I’m a Chef, so I will tell you the method, and why it works, small and large scale.

    First, the equipment, surprise, not a skillet, a 3 qt dutch oven. A whisk. A slotted spoon. A drop of lemon juice, not vinegar ( its for the acid, it makes the egg white “stiffen” to itself, that couple of seconds needed ) same idea as vinegar, minus the taste. No salt, this will neutralize the acid and is self defeating. Sturdy paper towels, or if you have it, cheese cloth is prefered.

    To Poach eggs directly in water, have a slotted spoon handy. Place three inches of water in your pan and 1 tbsp of lemon juice (even bottled will do fine.)., don’t do this in an aluminium pot, or your eggs may taste funny. I prefer seasoned ( lightly oiled, wiped, but you can feel it ) cast iron

    Bring the water to a low boil over medium high heat. Getting exactly the right simmer is important, if the water’s not hot enough, the egg will spread out before it sets. If the water is at a full boil, it will toughen the egg and send strands of the egg white off to all corners of the pot.

    Crack the egg into a small bowl. Stir the water to make a whirlpool, then stop stirring, and slide the egg into the centre of the whirlpool. Use your slotted spoon to nudge the egg together.

    Cook 2 minutes for a runny yolk, 3 minutes for a medium firm yolk, 4 minutes for firm. Believe it or not, this varies about 30 seconds depending on your stove. If you are using electric, which I hate, just make sure you have your water so its always “sparkling”, a champagne bubbly, no more, no less, electric once set just stays at least, just not a great deal of fast, fine control.

    Here’s were the paper towels, or preferably cheese cloth comes in, have a separate plate with which ever you are using set on that plate. Slide your finished egg onto this, not directly onto your plate, or you will have undesired water. Now slide that onto your plate. There you go, perfect poached egg. It actually sounds like more work than it is, and here’s the kicker.

    Why did I say this was perfect for mass production amounts ? Because it is, and it gets easier as you go. No matter how perfect you are, there will be a slight spill off, not noticeable egg by egg so much, but it will build, noticeably on the edges. This will “firm” the water as you go, less work on your whirlpool, you’ll understand when you do it.

    Now for a restaurant, you will want a second pan being readied, as after awhile the water gets to “firm”. But anyone at home, cooking for a brood, even a couple of broods, shouldn’t have that issue anyways. Enjoy.

    And as stated, I will still be trying this out, to see what the end result looks like. I’d imagine its slightly prettier, which in itself is desired for some dishes.

    1. Misky says:

      Thank you for your comprehensive reply, Juggys.

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