I had no idea. Really, no clue at all that a poached egg would be a cursing, ranting, raving, tear-your-hair-out kitchen experience. It’s just an egg, right? The most versatile of all foods on the planet. There are at least a dozen reasons to eat eggs, including that they are full of choline, which is fantastic for brain development, especially in young children.
I have been making poached eggs the cheater way for years now – with a little water in a ramekin and then 60 seconds in the microwave. BUT TO DO IT OLD-SCHOOL STYLE, IT IS HARD TO POACH AN EGG PERFECTLY. Oh, sure. You can make stringy egg feathery watery soup. Any kitchen fool can do that. But a perfect oval egg with cooked whites and a buttery smooth liquid yolk? This required Job-like patience to teach myself. Much like Julie in the film Julie and Julia: “They taste like cheese sauce. Yum.”
I sacrificed about a dozen eggs to learn. After about six failures and a few choice curse words, I watched the Master herself – Julia Child poaching an egg. I found that what worked best for me was to use a shallow skillet – that way the egg doesn’t have lots of water to swim around in and get stringy. The water has to be just below the boiling point, but not any cooler because the egg won’t cook but will just spread in the water. And indeed the Old Schoolers are right: vinegar is a must – you can watch the egg shrinking up the minute it hits the vinegar and water. In the end, Julia’s swirling technique came through for me, and kept the egg swirled around in a little pocket.
Have a Most Egg-cellent Holiday Season!
POACHED EGG PAPPARDELLE PASTA
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup semolina flour, plus more for dusting
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sift both flours together on a large work surface and make a well in the center. Place the eggs and egg yolks, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then pour into the well; with a fork, break up the eggs, then gradually mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until combined.
Knead by hand. Gather the dough into 2 equal-size balls; flour the surface. To knead each piece, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over itself and turn it counterclockwise. Continue pushing, folding and turning until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes.
Rest the dough. Pat each piece into a ball. Flatten slightly, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. (You can freeze 1 ball for later, or roll out both and freeze the cut pasta.)
Roll out the dough. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with flour. Starting in the middle, push away from you with a rolling pin, easing up on the pressure as you approach the edge. Continue rolling the dough into a sheet, turning occasionally, until you can see your fingers through the bottom. Let dry about 10 minutes.
Scatter flour on the top of the dough and loosely roll it into a cylinder. Using a sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices.
Unwrap the noodles; dust with semolina and gently toss to separate. Place on a sheet pan and cover with a tea towel until ready to cook. Boil in salted water for 5 to 7 minutes, to al dente stage.
Saute some julienne strips of red bell pepper and diced shallot in olive oil until softened. Add in minced garlic and cook another minute. Add in chopped spinach. Stir in pasta and toss with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in small “nests” on serving plates topped with a poached egg.
Here are some other feats by Daring Cooks this month:
Roasted Vegetable Hash with Poached Egg, Fork Spoon Knife
— posted by Donna