The Perfect Poached Egg – plus a little time

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Poached eggs take only a few minutes right?  Why use a 46 minute process?  Repeatability and perfection, that’s why.  You break even the freshest egg into a simmering pot of water and are immediately presented with far reaching wisps of whites clouding up the water.   Give it some time and you have a perfect poached egg every time.

I’ve tried the traditional method for years.  I’ve added vinegar.  I’ve tried the whirlpool.  You can strain your egg to get rid of loose whites before cooking.  Sure it helps, but you still can’t get a well formed egg every time.  Then there’s the timing. Am I over cooking it?  Am I under cooking it enough?  If only I could get a perfect poached egg every time without fuss and worry.

Of course, you can.  The holy grail of the search for the perfect poached egg method is Sous Vide . . . and a little bit of patience . . . okay, maybe a lot of patience.

But can it be that easy?  Of course not.  I’ve seen lots of attempts to poach an egg sous vide.  Frankly, you end up with a lot of the same problems as the traditional method.  I have seen plenty of pictures of poached eggs with perfect yolks and runny, unshaped whites or perfect whites with stiff yolks.  The answer to the perfect poached egg seems elusive even with sous vide.  Enter J. Kenji López-Alt and The Food Lab’s Guide to Slow-Cooked, Sous Vide-Style Egg .  Here is everything you want to know about cooking eggs.  Using the data garnered from Food Labs you can cook perfect yolks and whites every time.  

The poached egg in the photos was cooked sous vide in the shell at 147F for 45 minutes.  This sets up the yoke perfectly, but the white are still a little runny. That is solved by poaching it in water for just 1 min (traditional poaching method: crack the shell and gently drop the egg into simmering water). After the sous vide bath, the whites are firm enough that they hold their shape in the poaching water unlike poaching a raw egg.  The result: a perfectly poached egg.

On service day, you can save yourself some time by cooking the eggs sous vide in advance, chilling them in an ice bath, and refrigeratoring them until needed.  When ready to serve, warm them sous vide at 147F for 15 minutes and then proceed with the poaching.


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