I think poached eggs are a popular item to order from breakfast menus because people are intimidated to make them at home. Like all foods, Chefs often have tricks on how to make poached eggs easily and in bulk for quick service. Let me give you a peek behind the curtain and maybe save you some money going out for brunch.
Perfect poached eggs don’t require a recipe, it’s simply a technique and once you learn it, you can move on to make your own hollandaise and then… you’ll never leave home again.
Consider the science of eggs, it’s essentially pure protein, the goal when cooking protein is to tighten up the strands and bring them together. In this case we’re cooking with simmering water but of course there’s the concern that the eggs will break up in the water before they have a chance to tighten up which can be caused by water that’s too cold or boiling too hard. This is why people avoid making them at home, we think we need a perfect simmer.
One trick that chefs use is adding vinegar to the water, approx. 1/4 cup to 2 liters of water is a good rule of thumb. This will help to tighten up the proteins as soon as the eggs hit the water to prevent them from breaking up, don’t worry, it won’t make the eggs taste like vinegar.
It’s important not to crack the egg directly into the water, crack the egg into a separate bowl first and then slide it gently into the water, this will help it stay together.
Another trick that I like to use is to keep small ramekins or bowls in my water to hold the eggs. Not only does this work to hold and shape the eggs, it also prevents the hard boiling water from touching the egg. Watch my video and you will notice at the end that the water is boiling more than it “should” be and it doesn’t affect the eggs at all. Try to keep the water at a strong simmer and ensure that the water completely overs the ramekins.
For those of you who will get ambitious and make these for a brunch… Chefs will pre poach their eggs soft and then submerge them in ice water, when they get an order, they simply take a few out of the ice water and reheat for 30 seconds or so.
For soft poached eggs with a runny yolk using this method, it should take approx. 5 minutes, go longer to get a medium poached egg.
Trust me, you can do this!