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!