How To Poach an Egg or Two
You would think that, after cooking at varying levels in different countries in various guises for many decades, you would know how to poach an egg. Especially after having been awarded a gastronomic accolade.
But Di didn´t. Until the other day when a guest, an ex airline pilot, became a guest chef and cooked his own poached eggs for his breakfast!
He incorporated every recommended trick from salt to vinegar to a twirl and it worked even with supermarket eggs. Jaimie et al claim that you can only make the perfect poached egg with a freshly laid egg but we have proved this false. Watch the video and be ye no more afraid of the poaching process that terrifies so many of us.
Every year when planning my 3-day Christmas extravaganza, I dream of the delightfully wicked Eggs Benedict. And every year I research on Google “how to poach an egg” and every year I start early, practising and practising till John can´t stand the sight of any more wonky, wobbly, rock hard or not eggs. One year I figured out how to do it the night before would you believe and store them in the fridge in ice water. In the morning one just had to put the egg in hot water for a minute and it was perfect. But, by the time the next Christmas rolled around, I had forgotten how I did it.
Each chef has his method but my guest chef, Rob the pilot, used all the tricks from the salt and the vinegar to the twirl of the water. Many experts deny the point of all these and say that the only important factor is the freshness of the egg. If you take the egg straight from the hen and pop into boiling water, without the shell of course, it will poach beautifully. But how many of us keep chickens these days. I remember one time when I lived in the Essex country and had romantic visions of collecting eggs every day as I had when I was little at my grandmother´s house, my aunt, a seasoned hen keeper advised me not to. Not with your way of life, she said. You have no freedom when you have hens. They need to be fed every day and talked to frequently.
But even this notion of freshness we proved erroneous as, by law, we cannot use eggs straight from the hen. They have to have been checked and ratified or something. So we can only use supermarket eggs that are stamped. As Jaimie advises, scramble to the back of the stack to get the most recently delivered. I tried that once but got into trouble when boxes of eggs cascaded around me. I now stick to the ones at the front and my guest who was the guest chef had no trouble creating the perfect poached egg even with a supermarket egg.
I had a go after him and cooked the eggs for the next guests and they came out incredibly well as you can see at the top of the page. All the tricks are in the video so check it out. Happy poaching!