Although you might envision sneaking through a forest marked with “no trespassing” signs to make poached eggs, a poached egg is actually just an egg which has been simmered in water until the white solidifies. Poached eggs are the stars of eggs Benedict, a popular egg dish, and they can also be used in a number of other ways as well. Poached eggs are very easy to make at home, especially if you happen to own an egg poacher.
There are a number of reasons why people like poached eggs. For one thing, poached eggs are made without any butter or oil, making them lower in fat and less greasy than fried and scrambled eggs. Many people also enjoy the flavor of poached eggs, especially when the eggs are dressed with some sort of sauce. They are also extremely easy to make; once you've mastered the poached egg once, you won't have any problems in the future.
Two techniques can be used to make a poached egg. To make an egg in the traditional style, a saucepan is filled with water and brought to the simmer. As the water simmers, a few teaspoons of vinegar are added, to lower the pH of the water, which will help the egg cook more evenly. Then, an egg is gently cracked directly into the water, or cracked into a small bowl and tipped into the water.
After a few minutes of simmering, the white will have solidified, and the poached egg can be served; the yolk is typically runny, and most people prefer their poached eggs like this. Longer cooking will solidify the yolk, but it can also make the egg rubbery, so be careful.
The fresher the egg is, the better. Older eggs tend to spread out more in the water, which can make a poached egg messy, although perfectly edible. Some people prefer to use an egg poacher to make poached eggs; an egg poacher includes an insert with egg-sized dimples which the eggs are cracked into. The poacher holds the eggs together as they cook, keeping them neat and tidy.
In addition to being used in eggs Benedict, a poached egg can be served in all sorts of ways. Many people like poached eggs on sourdough or whole wheat toast, sprinkled with salt and pepper. They can also be served over roasted asparagus and other vegetables to add protein to a meal, and some people enjoy them over plates of rice and lentils or on burritos.