Eggs Benaddiction: An Ode and a Guide to Poached Eggs

by amy – August 26, 2015 in Cooking
poached eggs

A hearty lunch made with poached eggs on crusty white bread with cream cheese, spinach, tuna, and aged gouda – and a couple leaves of fresh coriander.

Ok, so what I’m about to share is not really about Eggs Benedict per se, as the title suggests. It’s about my utter adoration of poached eggs.

Quick, easy, versatile and delicious, the poached egg makes for a light-to-hearty breakfast or lunch with just one small pan to wash.

Sure, if you have time and eggs to spare, a hollandaise sauce completes the true Eggs Benedict. (It’s a dish I love to no end, and one I always order when I’m eating out for breakfast or brunch. I’ve never had a bad Eggs Benny. In my mind, the scale for Benny’s starts from Really Good and goes to Mindblowingly Amazing.) But you don’t need hollandaise to make a great poached egg.

So how do you make a poached egg? Easy. Boil a couple inches of water in your smallest saucepan or frypan. Reduce it to a gentle boil or a lusty simmer, and crack your egg right into the pan. Do this gently enough not to break the yolk.

Today's egg was poached a little longer than I aimed for - but it's still good!

Today’s egg was poached a little longer than I aimed for, but it’s still good!

You wanna aim for the egg and yolk to stay fairly self-contained and for the white not to spread all over your pan. Let it simmer for 2 minutes max while you toast some crusty bread or half an English muffin. Different people like their poached eggs to be cooked to different degrees of solidity. I try to aim for a thick and oozy yolk. Not runny, but just starting to firm up, so that when you cut open your egg, the rich yellow yolk hesitates for a brief instant before it comes out slowly and seductively, the perfect consistency for wiping up with your bread without making a total mess.

Now, once your toast is up, you can spread something like cream cheese or brie on it. You are preparing a special bed for the star of this meal. Then add something green and fresh like spinach. You can add tuna at this point for a heartier meal. By the time this is done, your egg will be ready. Use a slotted spoon to lift your egg out of the pan and place on top of your bed of deliciousness.

Now for the finishing touch – a sauce or other flavorful garnish. Hollandaise is obviously the first choice. But sweet chili sauce is amazing on poached eggs. I refrain from ketchup, because it’s a loud flavor that tends to drown out the subtlety of the egg and other flavors like the cream cheese. But you could mix a little mayo and ketchup together to make a “pink sauce”, a simplified-but-still-delicious French dressing. Garlic mayo is good too, or as I did today, slivers of aged gouda. Use your imagination.

I’ve traditionally added a dash of salt to my egg as it’s cooking. Lately, though, I’ve been reigning in on the salt, not for health reasons, but because my boyfriend has influenced me with his refined palate. Salt makes things delicious, but it also makes everything taste the same. I’ve tried less salt and found that I really enjoy being able to savor the pure taste of certain vegetables, for example. Salt drowns out flavor, just as sugar can mask the flavor of great coffee. And in this case, whatever sauce you use to garnish your poached egg may have some salt in it. You may find that the egg is rich and delicious on its own.