My wife recently got the entire The French Chef series on DVD. In case you’ve never seen it, it features Julia Child and was one of the very first cooking shows on television. It started in 1963 and ran for 10 years. In one of the episodes, Julia Child taught us how to make poached eggs. We were watching the episode pretty late on a Sunday night. I’ve never poached an egg before, but after watching the episode, my wife and I found ourselves poaching eggs at 10 PM because they looked so delicious.
Poached Eggs – Tricky but not Difficult
Poaching eggs has a reputation for being a difficult task. The truth is, they’re really not. Compared to scrambled or fried eggs, they do take a little more time and preparation. As a result, we rarely see poached eggs on the menu in restaurants or even at home. All things aside, it’s really not that hard though.
There are lots of ways to poach eggs. Here’s what works for us.
Start with Fresh Eggs
Age causes the whites of eggs to break down and become less cohesive. It’s exactly what you don’t want when it comes to poaching an egg. You want your egg whites to hold together as much as possible throughout the entire process.
Go Deep on the Water
Make the water at least 4 to 5 inches deep. You want to make sure the egg doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. If it does, it’s likely to stick and that’ll make it difficult to get out of the water without breaking it. Poached eggs are fragile.
Water At the Right Temperature
One of the keys with poached eggs: you can’t have the water fully boiling. Boiling water will break up the egg white before it has a chance to cook and solidify. You want the water to be still, but hot enough to cook. In addition, if the outside of the egg cooks too quickly, you’ll find yourself with a cold yolk.
The Gentle Drop
It’s the defining moment in your poached egg. While many seasoned chefs will break the egg right into the water, my wife and I aren’t nearly as skilled. We crack the egg into a wine glass and then use the wine glass to pour the egg as gently as possible into the hot water.
The magic time for perfect poached eggs is right around 4 minutes. You might want to go a little longer if you like more firm eggs. Gently remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon. They’ll continue to cook so drop them into cold water for a short time to stop them from over-cooking.
At this point, the only thing left to do is decide how you want to eat them. My wife and I like to put them on toast or an English muffin seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Eggs are incredibly healthy and make a great snack or meal.
I tried finding the episode of The French Chef on YouTube where Julia Child does the poached eggs but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I did find this video by Jacques Pépin who actually worked with Julia Child. His method is nearly identical to hers. Check it out and send us pictures of your poached eggs!
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.