Perfect Poached Eggs with Step by Step Photos and Instructions

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poached eggs

One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is a perfect, single poached egg on soft whole grain or sourdough toast, sprinkled with salt. Simple yet elegant!  And if I’m feeling really decadent, I butter the toast. Delish!

I ordered exactly this the other day while catching up with friends over brunch… this sparked quite a controversy over how to poach eggs. The topic even in invoked out right panic in one of my girlfriends at the mere thought of attempting to poach an egg! So, I thought I’d show them and you, how I do it!

1)      Fill a large deep saucepan with 2 inches of water, add a generous sprinkling of course kosher salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. When the water is barley simmering, break one egg into a small heatproof bowl.

poached 1

2)      Give the water a little swirl with your spoon or spatula, the moving water will help hold the egg's shape. (My mom would always use the handle of a wooden spoon.)

poaching 2

3)      Place the lip of the small heatproof bowl containing your egg into the water and gently tip it to slide the egg carefully into the pan.

poaching 3

4)    If necessary use a small spoon to “fold” the edges of the white over the egg, for a neater edge. Continue with remaining eggs. Cook until whites are just set and yolks are still soft 2-3 minutes. (Be sure each egg has sufficient space in the pan so that it does not contact its neighbors.)  Another option to get the perfect shape is to use a metal ring, it's a food styling trick, or you can use a cookie cutter or even crack an egg into a metal spoon and submerge it into the  water and let it cook

poaching 4

5)      Using a slotted spoon or small mesh sieve remove your eggs and briefly rest on paper towels to drain.

6)      For an even prettier presentation you can carefully trim the edges of your poached egg with a knife.

If not serving immediately poached eggs will hold up well for up to 24 hours. To make ahead, immediately place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking, then transfer them to a bowl of cool water (it should just reach  the tops of the eggs). Place bowl in the refrigerator, covered.

To serve, re-heat in a pan of barely simmering water, gently add eggs and cook just until heated through, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove eggs and blot as directed.

This method works for me; I hope it works for you too. I don’t use vinegar, I simply never have, I know many people do, and not everybody swirls. I’m curious - what is your method for creating perfect poached eggs?

Now that you have your perfectly poached eggs, here are some ideas for serving them:

 Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Poached Eggs with Apples

Poached Eggs with Tomato Cilantro Sauce

Frisee and Wild Mushrom Salad with Poached Egg

For our lesson on the Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs click here.

Images by ©doodlehedz photography.  Thank you to Chef Shaya, instructor at the JCC from At Your Palate, for stepping in to to cook for the photo shoot.