Friday, June 6, 2014

An Egg is Always an Adventure

Just as a poached egg isn't a poached egg unless it’s been stolen from the woods in the middle of the night… -Willy Wonka
IMG_2959Poaching an egg isn’t rocket science. You might think so by the plethora of devices available to make the process “easier”. Over the years, I have tried most if not all of them. The slotted receptacles you lower in the water; the cups that hover over simmering water (either in a rack, or hanging on the side of the pot); the electric cookers and the microwave cookers. Some work, to a certain extent, others are a complete disaster.

Enter the Tovolo Perfect Poach Poaching Pouch (Try saying that rapidly over a period of 4 hours), or PP.. In the course of my employment I demo variety of products we sell that I wouldn’t choose to have in my kitchen. They work, but why bother?IMG_2962

This is the only one I have found downright silly. It also works. So does a coffee filter. That was my first impression when I opened the package of Perfect Poach Poaching Pouches and held it to the light: a Perfect Poach Poaching Pouch is a Phucking Philter.

So, here’s the deal, you open the pouch and stand it up in a glass. Egg gets cracked into the pouch. Pouch is lowered gently simmering water, and the water IMG_2963itself “seals” the edges of the pouch together. 4-5 minutes later and you have a nice compact poached egg.

Though the “seal” is not as seamless as with the PP, you can achieve the same result with a coffee filter. As I did with one of these – you can tell if you look closely, but c’mon.  It is a bit easier with a cone shaped filter (we dug some out of the basement), and the bleached filter worked a tad better than the unbleached one. I suspect a No.2 filter would be better than the No. 4s we used.

In the end, why bother. It is not that difficult to do by yourself. The specialized
 instructions – adding vinegarIMG_2965 to the water, spinning the water into a cyclone – and the dedicated equipment isn’t to improve the flavor or texture of the egg. It’s all about aesthetics. Ways to keep the white contained in a centralized mass and eliminate what I have always referred to as “the stringers”.

The most common method, that of vinegared water, has been subject to long debate. The 1817 cookbook Apicius Redivivus: Or, The Cook's Oracle states: “don’t put any vinegar in the water, as it will harden the
Photo courtesy of Jenni Field
white of the egg, and quite spoil the look of it: the beauty of a poached egg is to have the yolk seen through the white”. Escoffier (Recipe 411) insists on vinegar.

Aesthetics. And flavor. I remain agnostic on vinegar as a necessity, but don't use it when the flavor would beIMG_2314 out of place, as it would have been with my most recent poached egg. My Ellie was home with a stomach ailment, and when she consented to a poached egg I just made a basic egg.

The water was brought to a bare simmer as in this photo – mine would look just like this if it bubbled that way in my pot. The egg was cracked into a small glass prep bowl of the kind you get a four-pack of in the dollar store. The bowl is placed just in contact with the water and the egg slipped gently in.

The only other thing to do is set a timer.

Looks good enough to serve a guest – with or without Hollandaise.

Technorati Tags: ,,


  1. I love serendipity; that I randomly posted that photo on Instagram just when you were working on this post! Kismet! =)

    1. Just can't get a good shot in a black Chantal sauce pan. Thanx, friend.