Don’t be afraid of poached eggs. Getting an egg poached to perfection is one of the greatest joys of life. Learn how to poach an egg, with tips from professional chefs.
Freshly Mashed Avocado, Toasted Brioche, Poached Eggs, Crispy Bacon Crumbles with Queso Fresco
I consider poached eggs to be the Holy Grail of breakfasts. Delicious, healthy and totally luxurious. And getting an egg poached to perfection is one my greatest joys in life. I’ve heard so many home cooks say they are paralyzed by the thought of giving it a try. That’s understandable since there are so many rules, tricks, and theories behind the method.
A couple of months ago I attended a French cooking class at Sur la Table. We prepared a Frisee Salad with warm bacon vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg to serve with our Coq au Vin. One of the most valuable take-aways from that class was the chef’s egg poaching demonstration. It’s all about a little bit of a stir, observing and then waiting. Since I’ve been in culinary school, I’ve learned that there are different theories about the technique, and they both work. Let’s take a look.
Prep that egg:
The chef at Sur la Table suggests straining the raw egg, allowing some of the loose white to drain off. This will prevent the egg white from spreading throughout the water. I purchased this tight woven strainer and it worked quite nicely.
My chef instructor at Culinary School instructs that no straining is needed. Just gently lower an egg into the water using a ladle. This has also worked beautifully for me.
Make sure the water is just right:
Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to water. Bring a pot of water to a simmer and then lower heat. You want to see just a few bubbles here and there in that hot water. If you place an egg in a boiling pot of water the egg will explode into a white foamy mess. The water should be three inches deep.
When the water is just right take a long handled spoon and start a good swirl in the water. No need to create a whirlpool bath. Your egg is not Greg Lougainis on the high dive, lower and gently introduce the egg into the swirling water. This is where a bit of a stir and a coddle comes in. Moving around the egg, slowly use the spoon to bring the egg white into an oval. The movement in the water should keep the egg from sinking to the bottom, but if it does, just take the spoon and from underneath gently cradle and coax it back to the top. It’s hot down there and the egg may stick.
Observe and wait:
If you’re cooking more than one egg, watch them closely and don’t let them touch. Now let them cook in the water to just how you like them. Runny eggs take about two minutes, medium three minutes and firm four minutes.
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. No doubt you’ll have a couple little puddles of water here and there, very gently pat them dry or drain on a paper towel.
Did you know you can poach eggs in advance? Undercook them slightly and then place them in a bowl of cold water. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve them the next morning, heat them up for a minute in almost simmering water, then serve immediately. This is how restaurants manage the brunch crowd.
Now that you know how to poach an egg, do you want to make this wonderful fresh open-faced breakfast sandwich? It’s so easy. Fry up four slices bacon and crumble. Set aside. Smash a large avocado, gently salt and pepper and set aside. It takes about two minutes for toast to brown and two minutes to poach the eggs. Start the poaching process by preparing your water and draining the egg. As soon as you drop that egg into the water, start the toast. Makes two. I poached four eggs.
To build the sandwich place smashed avocado on your toast. Top with poached eggs, and then with crumbled bacon and some sprinkles of Queso Fresco. Enjoy a fresh and delicious breakfast.
Looking for that Frisee Salad with Poached Eggs, Bacon and Red Wine Vinaigrette?
- 1/2 pound frisee washed French curly endive, dried and torn into bite sized pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces thick-cut bacon cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick strips
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons shallot fine chopped
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Add frisee to a large salad bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet on medium heat, add bacon. Cook until crispy and fat is rendered. About 6 - 8 minutes. Leave the bacon in the pan and turn off heat.
Fill a 4 quart saucepan halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce to gentle simmer. Break each egg into a small sieve and then gently slide the eggs into the saucepan. Push the white around the yolk with a slotted spoon to form an oval. Poach to desired doneness. 2 minutes for runny yolk, 3 for medium and 4 for firm. Poach one to two eggs at a time.
Reheat bacon over moderate heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 - 2 minutes. Add red wine vinegar, increase heat to medium high and boil for 5 seconds. Immediately pour hot dressing over the frisee and toss well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve: Divide salad equally among 4 plates. Using a slotted spoon, remove each egg from the warm water and blot with paper towels. Top each portion of salad with an egg. Season eggs with salt and pepper and serve immediately.