poached eggs in iron skillet

How to Poach Eggs

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There’s an art to poaching eggs.  You want the yolks to be centered, the whites to look white, the eggs separate from each other, and to cook them the proper length of time. Three of the eggs in this photo wouldn’t be approved.

I’ve made boiled, scrambled, fried eggs and omelets, but I’ve never poached an egg.

FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:

EGGS, TO BREAK
Whenever you break eggs, never mind what quantity, always break each egg separately into a cup first. One bad egg would spoil all. Supposing you have a dozen new-laid eggs just taken from the nest. It is not an uncommon thing to have one that has been overlooked for weeks, and which may be a half-hatched mass of putrefaction.

EGGS, POACHED
The best kitchen implement to use for poaching eggs is a good large frying-pan. The mistake is to let the water boil; it should only just simmer. You should avoid having the white of the egg set too hard. We should endeavor to have the eggs look as white as possible. To insure this, put a few drops of vinegar or lemon-juice into the water, break the eggs separately into a dish, and then turn them very gently into the hot water. Use a knife or spoon to prevent the whites from cooking together. When they are set fairly firm, take them out with an egg-slice, using the left hand, and trim them with the right. Poached eggs often look best when the yolk reposes in a sort of pillow-case of white. Before putting them on toast, be very careful to drain off the water. This is particularly important when the water is acid, especially with vinegar.

Lay eggs in a deep hot dish, and pour over real melted butter, made with butter, hot water, salt, pepper, lemon juice or vinegar, and a dash of tabasco. Send to table covered—a poached egg chilled has lost its charm.

An egg poacher contains a perforated section of metal just large enough to hold an egg. In poaching eggs with such a utensil, the perforated part is placed over a pan of boiling water. Then the egg is carefully slid into it, and allowed to poach. Eggs prepared in this way are really cooked by steam and are found to be very satisfactory.

POACHED EGGS ON TOAST
Eggs poached according to the directions just given can be made both appetizing and attractive by serving them on toast. Indeed, the addition of toast to a poached egg adds a quantity of carbohydrate, a food principle in which the egg is lacking. If the toast is buttered, fat is added, and such a dish, together with fruit, makes a very excellent breakfast. In preparing poached eggs on toast, the usual custom is to butter slices of freshly made toast, moisten them with hot milk or cream, and place on them freshly poached eggs. The eggs are then seasoned with salt and pepper, and, if desired, a little piece of butter may be dropped on each one. Or you may serve the eggs on squares of hot, well-buttered toast which have been sprinkled thickly with grated cheese, then set for a minute inside a hot oven.

POACHED EGGS ON FRIED TOMATOES
Cut solid tomatoes into slices a quarter of an inch thick. Dust them with salt and pepper and dip them in egg beaten with a tablespoonful of water. Roll them thickly with bread crumbs, dip them again in the egg, dust again with bread crumbs, and fry in deep hot fat. Drain on brown paper and dish them on a heated platter. Put a poached egg in the center of each slice, dust with salt and pepper, put a tablespoonful of tomato sauce over each egg and send at once to the table.

CREAMED POACHED EGGS
Put a quart of hot water, a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt into a frying pan. Break each egg separately into a saucer. Slip the egg carefully into the hot water, simmer three or four minutes until the white is set, then with a skimmer lift them out into a hot dish. Empty the pan of its contents and put in half a cup of cream or rich milk. If milk, add a large spoonful of butter. Pepper and salt to taste, and thicken with a very little cornstarch. Let it boil up once, and turn it over the dish of poached eggs. It is a better plan to warm the cream in butter in a separate dish, that the eggs may not have to stand. Mushrooms, asparagus tips, minced parsley, minced cold boiled ham, cauliflower, green corn, oysters, sausage or dried beef may be added to any cream sauce and served over poached eggs.

photo by Rob Galloway

How Do You Like to Cook Eggs? Please Leave a Reply Below.

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8 Comments

  1. I once had a pan made just for poaching four eggs but that was a long time ago and I rarely poach eggs any more. The recipe for putting a poached egg on buttered toast with cheese on it sounds delicious. Eggs added to a cheese sauce and poured over toast is delicious. All this talk about eggs has inspired me to make omelets in a bag for breakfast. We have our own chickens but collect eggs every day so there are no yucky ones.

    • I eat a lot of eggs, too. I usually cook some sausage, crumble it, crack a couple of eggs in it, mix it all together and melt cheese on the top.

  2. I love poached eggs on toast but I can never get them just right. I usually leave such things to my wife who knows better than I do when it comes to cooking!

  3. I am certain I’ll never be able to poach an egg… but I sure had fun reading about them!

  4. I have never poached an egg before, I will follow your instructions and see if mine come out alright…..

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