the perfect poached egg

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To me, there is nothing more comforting than a softly poached egg on a slice of buttered toast with a cup of tea in the morning. And if you are an egg-lover as I am, no other cooking method will give you a more unadulterated finished product. It allows the flavors and textures of the egg to shine in their purest form. It is simple food at its simplest. Sitting at my dining room table, looking out at my backyard, listening to the birds chirp and reading my latest choice novel adds to the country feel of the morning. It is a quiet, unusually warm January morning (57 degrees) to be exact. I have a busy day ahead, but I like to be up at sunrise to have a moment or two to myself…just me and this beautiful egg.

Poaching an egg is a daunting task for any home cook. It seems to be a cooking method that defies physics. Eggs, which are liquid before cooked are added to softly boiling water. But there are a few tricks of the trade which will make your poached egg perfect every time.

The first is the temperature of the water. You want it hot enough that the egg white begins to cook instantly (so as to maintain integrity of the egg), but not boiling so hard that it upsets the egg and leaves it in fragmented bits all over the pot. Essentially you want a jacuzzi for the egg…without the bubbles on. No rolling boils here. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to low and wait until the bubbles just barely stop.

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Crack the egg on the side of the pot and gently drop it into the water, allowing it to sort of slip from the shell. Everything about poaching is gentle, gentle, gentle.

The white will begin to cook and turn opaque. It only take about 2-4 minutes for the egg to finish cooking in the water. Let it do its thing. If you want to skim the foamy bits that float to the top of the water for better visibility, you can use a slotted spoon to do that without disturbing your egg.

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I use a slotted spoon to gently cradle the egg and remove it from the water. A light poke with your finger against the yoke will tell you if it is cooked properly. You want the whites cooked and the yoke still liquid inside. I set the spoon down and let some of the water drain off before I top my buttered wheat toast with it. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste.

The best part is the moment you break the seal on the yolk and watch all the lovely liquid gold spill over the plate and begin to soak into the crusty slice of bread. YUM!

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