Poaching may seem like one of the most difficult ways to prepare eggs, but it's actually quite simple and quick. Poaching is simply cooking an egg in simmering--but not boiling--water without its shell. Poached eggs are a popular brunch dish, are frequently served on toast, and make great additions to soup, salads, or sandwiches. Because poaching does not require additional butter or oil, it is actually a healthier method of preparation than scrambling or frying eggs if done correctly.
Basic Poached Egg
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vinegar (optional)
- Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with water to a depth of about 2 inches. Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat.
- When the water reaches a simmer, pour in the vinegar, if using. Give the water a quick swirl and then crack the egg just above the surface of the water.
- Cover the pot and let the egg continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Scoop the egg out of the water and serve immediately.
Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce
This alternate method of poaching eggs doesn't require any simmering water.
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 eggs
- 4 slices toast, for serving
- Salt, pepper, and additional Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Sauté the chopped onion and mushroom pieces until they are soft and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes. Cover the pan and let the vegetables simmer over medium-low heat, uncovering to stir occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pan and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Crack the eggs over the top of the tomato dish. Return the cover to the pan and let the eggs cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until just barely set.
- Serve the eggs on toast, garnished with salt, pepper, and more Parmesan.
Poached Egg Tips
Unfortunately, if not cooked properly, poached eggs will resemble stringy, gelatinous masses rather than the desired neat, firm forms. To poach eggs, consider the following tips:
- Add a splash of vinegar to the water to help the eggs keep their shape when cooking. If desired, the vinegar can be rinsed away when finished, or it can be left for a slight tangy flavor. Experiment with different types of vinegar for different flavors.
- Use the freshest eggs possible, since they will hold their shape more easily. If fresh eggs are not available, simmer an older egg in its shell for a few seconds to help the white hold its shape.
- Crack each egg into a small cup or large serving spoon rather than directly into the pan. Transfer it to the water carefully.
- Be sure each egg has sufficient space in the pan so that it does not contact its neighbors.
- Three minutes is the desired time for medium-firm eggs. Adjust the timing up or down to reach desired firmness.
- Finished eggs may be refrigerated (covered in water) for up to three days. To reheat, simmer them in hot water long enough to warm through, but do not boil.
Classic Poached Eggs
Poached eggs are a perfect treat to serve at a brunch or while entertaining due to their classic, sophisticated appeal. With a few simple tricks, they are quick and easy to make.