March 3, 2010

Perfect Poached Eggs (Thank You Thomas Keller)

Of course Thomas Keller's eggs are perfect. Why should I be surprised. His dishes at French Laundry are breathtaking: in his hands, in a dream kitchen, with impeccable ingredients, everything is perfection.

I just got my copy of Ad Hoc at Home and was curious about how Keller's magic would translate with home cooking. Deciding to take baby steps, this morning I tried his technique for poached eggs. With simple, yet explicit instructions, I followed diligently. As I cooked my eggs, I thought of Keller describing the importance of cooking the same dish over and over to discover the nuances and eventually master the dish. With this humility in mind, I kept expectations low for my first try at his poached eggs. But the first one was perfect! Beginners luck, I figured. Then I got out my camera to try again. Check it out....







I am swooning over Keller.



INGREDIENTS
  • farm raised eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • fresh pepper

Fill a heavy bottomed sauce pan with 6-8 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add vinegar to water and reduce heat to a simmer. Crack one egg into a ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edge of the pan two times to create a whirlpool. Drop egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Start your timer. A minute and a half later (or when the white is set and yoke is still runny) gently remove your poached egg with a slotted spoon. Transfer the egg to a bed of paper towels to soak up some of the cooking water. (Keller suggests trimming off uneven edges of the cooked egg with a small pair of scissors. I personally don't mind the imperfect edges of the whites.) Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and enjoy!

Skim off any foam from the simmering water. Repeat - cooking one egg at a time - until you have enough for your brunch, etc...

I must also give huge props to Soul Food Farm, without the richness of their tangerine-colored yokes, a perfectly poached egg would not be perfect at all.

21 comments:

  1. Hey there Yummy Supper gal! It's Genie, your momma's friend. I'm loving your emails and recipes. Although right now it's late and I'm on a cleanse and hungry!! Thinking of going in the kitchen to poach an egg but I'm supposed to take these other pills an hour ago!

    Beautiful eggs too. Absolutely swoon material!

    FYI, you might enjoy this blog too: www.merakohblog.com - a photog for moms. I work for her and you'll enjoy her photo recipes.

    Looking forward to more! Much love, Genie

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  2. These look really good, I like rich color of those eggs, I usually poach mine with apple cider vinegar, they taste delicious and hold well.
    Have a great day :)

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  3. My mouth is watering at the color of that yolk....

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  4. So if you have to make 5 eggs, whats to stop the first from being really cold by the time the 5th one is ready? Who wants to eat cold eggs?

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  5. Look at those beautiful yolks!! I knew those must be farm eggs before you even had to point it out. Beautiful job on both the photography and the poaching, and thank you for sharing (I've been wanting to add 'Ad Hoc at Home') to my cookbook library for awhile now), I will definitely try it Thomas Keller's way next time!

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  6. I've tried this method several times (even with vinegar and whirling the water) and I always end up with messy results...I feel inspired to try again after reading this. (:

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  7. True, no one wants cold eggs! Keller suggests immediately placing each poached egg into an ice bath. (He says that the cooked eggs can keep in the refrigerator in ice water for several hours.) When you are ready to serve the eggs, bring a large pot of water to boil. Reheat the eggs by placing them in the simmering water for about 30 seconds. Again, blot the eggs with a paper towel to soak up excess water. I haven't tried Keller's ice bath suggestion, but I trust him to do things right.

    Another thought...If you are making poached eggs for a crowd, it might be nice to have a couple of pots of water going at the same time to poach your eggs more quickly.

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  8. Oh my... what a beautiful golden yolk!
    I love how Keller always takes the time to be thorough and detailed even if he's talking about something as simple as filleting a fish or poaching an egg, so that when you follow along, you know you're doing it exactly the right way. I'd love to eat at one of his restaurants someday, but I comfort myself with his books in the meantime. :)

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  9. I saw your photo on TasteSpotting and it hooked me in. I love,love poached eggs. I make mine the same way, the vinegar is key. Beautiful egg

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  10. Of course the real secret to perfect poached eggs is abosolute freshness. Even Keller (whose method is generations old, BTW) would not work as well with the average egg available to most of us.

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  11. Too true. Nothing beats a fresh farm egg if you can get your hands on one. I am finding eggs more and more at the farmer's market (if I get there early). Farm eggs are definitely pricey, but well worth it in terms of quality, nutrition, and flavor.

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  12. you can try poaching them in a skillet with only 1-2 inches of simmering water without swirling. Seems to work a bit better for me!

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  13. I must say that that was really a very nice and perfect poached egg. I just wish I can make something like that!

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  14. Ok, I am a poached egg flunky. I have tried poaching eggs and I just don't have the gift. I tried swirling it hard, soft, in between. I have tried gently sinking the egg with no swirling. One time I gave the water 1 swish and dropped the egg in and walked away. When it came back it was beautiful. I have no idea why it turned out that time. I just didn't care how it turned out. I haven't been able to replicate it ....ever. I give. Your the queen, these eggs look divine.

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  15. Part science and part artistry. I am an egg addict, and I can't wait to get home and try this. Thank you for sharing!

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  16. Well put! Cooking does seem like magic sometimes, doesn't it?

    I made Keller's poached eggs again yesterday and they do not disappoint:)

    -E

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  17. Did you start with room temp eggs or eggs from the fridge? I did this with eggs straight from the fridge and they were quite underdone with gelatinous white around a liquid yolk at 1:20. The yolk was still very runny at 1:40. I'm thinking I need to start with room temp eggs for them to come out right, or maybe it's something to do with elevation.

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  18. Telesma,

    Ugh....I hate to hear when things don't work out. I know how frustrated I feel when that happens.

    In general I am a big believer in using room temp eggs for everything - but honestly I don't think I am usually that careful about the egg's starting temp when I do this poaching method. But maybe it's worth a try. Plus you could just play with adding time to you cooking. When all else fails trust your instincts:).... when the egg looks done and yummy to you, pull it out.

    I hope this helps and that you get to eat some poached eggs soon.

    E

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  19. AnonymousJuly 20, 2012

    It helps if you have the freshest eggs you can get. over time, the whites of the egg become less willing to stay close to the yolk in the simmering water, leading to a mess in the water instead of that perfect looking oval formed white ball lol. The vinegar helps 'tighten' the whites, so they supposedly form a nice wrapped poached egg.

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  20. I use a tea strainer or a flour strainer ( fine meshed usually made from nylon) - break the egg into the strainer (over a dish) - the very thin runny portion of the white will drain away, leaving the firmer white and yolk in the strainer. Just gently roll the egg into the boiling, salted water. Perfect poached egg, no white ghosties!

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    Replies
    1. Cheryl,
      I've never heard to straining off the runnier whites. So cool! Thanks for the great comment.
      -E

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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