The Gentle Art of Egg Poaching

After the astounding thrill of the First Egg last Friday, the Girls have been producing eggs with charming regularity. Since Friday, we’ve collected nine eggs.

That’s very nearly our first dozen – or would be if we hadn’t been eating them as quickly as they land in the laying box. On Sunday morning, while Adele and Willem were still here, I got to share the discovery of eggs with a very happy little boy. Willem joined me in the egg collecting expedition and was, I think it’s safe to say, pretty damn thrilled. We poached the first two eggs and Sean, Adele and I ate them. Will was off somewhere doing whatever it is six year old boys do, once the thrill of actually finding eggs was over.

They poached beautifully. I’m not usually a very good poacher. I find it a vaguely stressful kitchen experience, partly because i’m fussy about how runny I want them to be (ie very)  and partly because once you are doing more than two of them, it becomes something of a logistical nightmare. But these ones were perfect on buttered Italian bread. We all stood in the kitchen spooning delicate little mouthfuls with complete joy. Getting to share my first eggs was about as good as it gets.

the first egg - poached

Are you a good poacher? Do you get it right? Or do you stress and panic like I do? I’ll tell you what I did differently this time. It was a simple change to my usual method and one I made on purely aesthetic grounds, but it seemed to work!

Normally, when I poach, I use (for reasons completely unknown to me) a great, wide frying pan. When the moment comes to create a whirlpool in the middle of the simmering bath (yes, a whirlpool, doesn’t everyone do that? I don’t remember where I learned that) it takes ages normally to get the whirlpool doing its thing properly. It’s never very satisfactory for me.

This time, I wanted to cook my lovely little home grown eggs in my small Le Crueset pot that’s a pretty blue. It just seemed so perfectly domestic to do it this way. See the pot? It looks like this.

What turned out to be an aesthetic choice turned out to be smart because making the whirpool in the pot of simmering water was so much easier with a smaller surface area. I put in a little vinegar as per normal and the pretty little eggs slid in, holding their shape perfectly as they cooked.

The result was wonderful. The eggs were tasty, definitely eggy and delicious. And in the process I learned something about the gentle art of poaching eggs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think I’m going to be a very happy Chicken Keeper. Would you believe I’m already dreaming of adding to the family?



26 thoughts on “The Gentle Art of Egg Poaching

  1. My mum taught me the whirlpool in a small, high-sided saucepan, but I’ve never been able to do it successfully.

    My trick is that I crack my egg into a mug, then lower the mug into my simmering vinegared water. I let the water fill the mug and hold it there for a moment before tipping it into the pan and adding a second. (I can do 2 at a time, but no more!) I adore runny yolks, but can’t stomach runny whites, so I life my eggs out after a couple of minutes, and use a knife to cut the white near the yolk – this let’s me see whether it’s cooked properly, and, if it’s not, it seems to help set the white pretty quickly once i drop it back in!

  2. Love the sweet peas! Was not thrilled with my Monkey sock attempt. They came out huge. But maybe dropping another needle size and going with the no-purl version is just what I need to do right now. I’m suffering from knitter’s block. Haven’t finished one darn thing in months.

  3. I just wanted to let you know you insipred me to try poaching eggs again! I love the idea of poached eggs, but I’ve never had them turn out – the yoke breaks, or all the whites get spun off, or just shreaded, etc. So hearing your success made me want to try again, it took three eggs, but I got the last one perfect! I was using (1) a too big pot, (2) too much water (3) either not swirling enough, or trying to swirl with the egg in. I finally figured out that a smaller pot 9like you said) and less water (egg doesn’t sink as far, no wonder you used a frying pan) keeps the whites attached! I just need to perfect how long I keep them in there, but you’ve geven me hope for perfect poached eggs on Sunday mornings!

    PS I love hearing about your ladies!

  4. oh superb! i’m a bit of a klutzy poacher myself, i either overcook them, or they spread all over and get too wet. i’ve tried various gadgets, but i think perfecting the traditional technique, as you’ve done, is the only way to go. it’s so great that you’ve got a constant supply going now. apparently martha stewart has 200 chooks and gets more than 100 eggs everyday! so i don’t think you’ll get that carried away …

  5. I’ve never poached an egg because I don’t like the runny bits. I can eat scrambled eggs with a bit of loose egg but nothing that runny. Your yolks are almost orange, they’re so beautiful.

  6. Bells, I never do the whirlpool and don’t believe it’s necessary with really fresh eggs. I don’t add vinegar either, but Tammois swears by it, up to 25%!

    Here’s my system:

    Boil water, the pan doesn’t matter much but the water needs to be almost 2 inches deep. Once it’s boiling, turn it back down a touch so that it’s not a vigorous rolling boil, but still stinking hot. Break your egg in and make sure it drops in very carefully. You’ll scald your fingers if you’re doing it right. As soon as the egg goes in, put the toast down.

    I’ve got a big spoon with holes in it to remove the eggs. You can tell pretty easily how they are going by lifting them out a touch and poking it with your finger. You can actually feel when the yolk is getting close to cooking. Should take about as much time as cooking the toast.

  7. How wonderful to eat an egg that was laid in your back yard. I’m so glad to hear they are tasty.

    As for poaching, I cheat. I have a stove-top egg poacher that essentially steams the eggs. They come out perfect every time and I there is no skill needed!

  8. I’m a FAILED poacher. I got a dozen eggs once and tried to poach using big pans, little pans, vortex, no vortex, vinegar, no vinegar and I couldn’t get one good one! reading the comments on your post makes me think that my eggs might have been dodgy a bit so I’m going to try again with the freshest eggs I can get 🙂 Chicken keeping is in our near future as well after we build chickenopolis.

  9. I’m so glad you posted this, as I’ve been on an egg poaching kick lately. I’m completely awful at it though. Mainly because I’d never thought of the whirlpool. I lose so much of my whites — but maybe it’s because they’re store bought and probably already over a week old by the time I get them. I’ll be sure to try this next time. Although we do differ on doneness, as I like my yolk to ooze out at more of a walk than a run. ;D

  10. Yep I too converted from the big wide fry pan where i tried to poach a few eggs at a time, to a small bessemer saucepan where I do a maxium of two at a time.

    Your egg looks perfectly poached and utterly delicious! Those girls must be enjoying their new home!

  11. I follow the instructions Delia gave in her how to cook series, with modifications – saucepan of boiling water, turn heat down, pour egg in and simmer very very gently for *some* minutes. Delia suggests turning the heat off and leaving it in the water for 10 minutes which I can’t wait for! No vortex, no vinegar. It’s the freshness of the egg which affects how it poaches – the fresher the better apparently. And yours are seriously fresh:)

  12. You know what comes next, don’t you? Hollandaise.

    Damn, now I want eggs benedict. I really need to stop reading your blog before breakfast.

  13. oh i have no idea how to poach and i really want to because runny poached eggs are one of my favourite things. that one just looks absolutely perfect, im so glad the chooks are giving you so much pleasure!

  14. I’ve never poached, but I have owned chickens… just don’t get one of those rooster guys when you add. They are mean little suckers. Really – I think I still have scars!

  15. I’ve never, ever poached an egg. I can’t stand runniness and will only eat eggs hard-boiled or scrambled (omelets are okay too). I would really, really like some eggs right now–still avoiding eggs-on-the-plate for the girl’s sake.

  16. What glorious eggs! I am SO impressed! Fresh, fresh, new-laid egs – there’s nothing like them!

    And what a thrill for Wills! He’s gonna haunt that nesting box every time he comes over.

  17. I too LOVE poached eggs, but use a saucepan and have no problems (unless you count mistiming the toast!!). YOur poached egg photos were inspiring, I had some for brunch on Sunday and while not as tasty as I am sure your were (they were free range) they were delicious! And all because of you! 🙂

  18. I switched to a small milk saucepan a while ago and my poached eggs have been much more successful. I even manage to do 5 in my tiny little saucepan just fine. But nothing beats freshness for a good poached egg!

  19. New laid eggs shouldn’t need a whirlpool or vinegar – the white holds together much better when they are fresh. If you want to beat egg whites for meringue or a sponge though, make sure they are at least a week old – they won’t froth up well when they are new!

  20. I whirlpool to make the white more compact and a nicer round or oval shape. I am like you too, very picky about how my eggs are poached: cooked yolk on the outside but beautifully runny on the inside. Yours look perfect!!

  21. I was always taught the whirlpool was to counter the “age” of eggs that arrive as the egg whites thin after a week.

    Fresh eggs poach beautifully!

  22. I have never poached an egg (I’ve got a poacher thingy) but in everything I’ve seen, a saucepan is used rather than a frypan – probably for the whirlpool ease reason! Look at that lovely yellow yellow yolk! You can tell it’s a happy chicken that makes such a vibrant yolk!

    (I knew you’d become a chicken blogger!! heh heh!)

    (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

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