Because this is my first post, I’m feeling pressure to write something poignant that you’ll take with you for the rest of your week, or maybe your life; something inspiring that will make your mouth water and maybe get you into the kitchen. In lieu of that, I simply decided to up the ante and face two fears at once: the first blog post and poaching eggs. I’m happy to report that not only do I have a blog post for you today, I have poached eggs. Four of them, to be precise.
I fell in love with the idea of Eggs Benedict when I was fourteen but I could not poach an egg to save my life. My numerous attempts to master the art of poaching an egg ended in sorry-looking messes that at best resembled unseasoned egg drop soup, and at worst generic cat food. The eggs flowered every time, leaving me frustrated and still hungry. Finally my mother took pity on me and bought me an egg poacher. I considered the poacher a sort of culinary cheating mechanism, but I used it regardless because a fried egg on Eggs Benedict is practically sacrilegious.
I don’t know what possessed me to poach an egg for lunch yesterday. Perhaps it was the “Elegance with Eggs” episode of The French Chef that I watched the night before, or the fact that, due to unforeseen circumstances, I had over two dozen eggs in my refrigerator. No one will ever really know, but I plead temporary insanity.
Just as I had in the past, I followed all the traditional steps. Simmering water, check. Shallow transferring dish, check. Vinegar, check. I cracked my egg. I slid it into the water. And then I waited. About four minutes later, I gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst. Armed with nothing but my slotted spoon, I gingerly scooped my egg out of the simmering water, and nearly fainted with both delight and disbelief when I found that my egg was perfectly poached. Not leathery, not underdone, just delicate and a little bit creamy. I was so pleased that I giggled like a small child and made three more, and each one was better. I melted a few slices of Etorki cheese (from the Basque region of France; if you have the means, I highly recommend it) on some whole-wheat toast with whole-grain Dijon mustard, and proudly placed my eggs on top, dusted with a few grinds of salt and pepper.
Here’s what I learned. Make sure your water is just barely simmering. If it’s not hot enough, your egg will be a tad rubbery by the time it’s properly cooked on the inside. If it’s boiling too violently, the water will tear your egg apart from the bottom up.
That being said, watch out for vertical movement from the bubbles but also beware of horizontal movement from stirring the water. You must ensure that your water is as still as possible, because otherwise your egg will whirl itself into a tangled, irredeemable jumble.You can fortunately keep the inevitable egg flailing to a minimum by corralling the egg with your slotted spoon during the first few seconds of its swim.
Use vinegar! I can’t stress it enough. It makes the outer bit of egg white congeal more rapidly, which means the egg is less likely to flower. Just a tablespoon regular old white distilled vinegar in the poaching water should be enough. Any more and your egg will actually taste like vinegar, and you don’t want that.
Above all, you must persevere. After all, it’s just food, and the worst you can do is mess it up. You eat it and you move on. But if I can poach an egg, so can you.
Be fearless in the kitchen.