I love poached eggs! And I make them by sliding eggs straight into hot liquid–no little trays or cups between them and the almost simmering water.
But I have to protect myself from my beginner’s clumsiness, so I start off by breaking each egg into its own teacup.
TIP: If a chip of eggshell falls into the cup, use a piece of the eggshell itself to fish it out. The slime-on-slime encounter between big and small pieces of shell somehow persuades the chip to ride up the side of the cup instead of slithering away on a swell of raw egg-white from your finger.
Meanwhile, I’ve put a pot of water on the boil. I use one with rounded sides, so you can fish around in there no matter where your egg settles in; I’m not a patient person, so I blast it at high heat until it almost boils (but doesn’t!).
Then, I tip each egg into the almost-simmering water. (Some people like to set up a swirl, so the eggs are less likely to stick. I don’t bother–if they stick a bit, I slide a spatula under them to set them loose in the water.)
NOTE: An egg white has two parts–the thin albumen and the thick albumen. You have to accept the fact, as far as I can tell, that the thin outer albumen layer is going to be a loss. It will spread out in the water, turn murky, and not look like anything you want to eat. As a cheap person, this bothers me, but I’ve learned to live with it.
So I leave the eggs in there for almost four minutes while I make the muffins or toast that I am going to put them on. Tonight, I didn’t have any muffins, but I always have a loaf of Grand Central Bakery sliced Como bread in my freezer. So I fish out a couple of slices of this wonderful honeycombed bread.
I happen to belong to the same book club as Gwen Bassetti, the founder of Grand Central Bakery; one of these days I’ll do a posting on her first-class operation. But for now, back to the eggs.
I toast a couple of slices of the Como and butter it nicely. (I’ll save the discussion of butter to another day.)
Update: I heard from Ez the Food Pro (more later about him): “Here’s the key to losing as little of the white as possible: white vinegar. A cap full or two in the water before it boils keeps the egg together when it’s dropped in. Doesn’t change the flavor really either.”
I tried it and it worked!