"After sitting down one morning last week to breakfast and eating two poorly poached eggs, I thought to myself: 'How can anyone screw up such a simple culinary task of poaching an egg?'" says Anthony Marzuillo, the executive chef and proprietor of Soigne Restaurant & Wine Bar.
"Unfortunately, I recently have come across far too many improperly poached eggs, either undercooked, overcooked, misshapen, watery and bland, or even yolk broken upon arrival to the table."
So -- if you're one of the aforementioned eggheads whose poaching technique may be a little oeuf, Marzuillo has boiled it down for you in five easy steps.
Five Steps to Perfectly Poached Eggs: Anthony Marzuillo
1. Season the water
"Start with a large stock pot with a nice wide opening. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar (we use Champagne vinegar at the restaurant) and two tablespoons of kosher salt per gallon of water. Both the vinegar and the salt help with the coagulation of the egg whites -- and they also add flavor."
2. It's ALL about the boil!
"I believe most people go awry because their water is at the wrong temperature. Lack of a boil will lead to your eggs sitting on the bottom and coming out like a pancake. Too vigorous of a boil and your eggs will come out broken up into shreds of whites with a lonely overcooked yolk.
The water must be at a gentle boil, which means bubbles rising to the top, but not rolling. Maintaining bubbles is crucial because the bubbles will carry your eggs through the water, allowing them to gently poach."
3. Be gentle
"When your perfectly seasoned water is at the proper boil you are ready to crack your eggs. An egg is mostly made up of water and protein in many different membrane layers. When cracking the egg you must be very gentle not to disturb these membrane layers, especially the membrane that holds the yolk together. Broken membranes will lead to broken yolks once in the water.
To crack the egg, gently tap on the side of a ramekin or small bowl. Break the shell in half and slide the egg into the ramekin. It is imperative to separate the shell in half because if you attempt to slide an egg through a jagged shell you will pierce the egg membranes."
4. Patience, patience, patience
"Once the eggs are (slid) in the water (from the ramekin or bowl), leave them alone! They will tell you when they are ready to be removed from the pot. A perfectly poached egg will float and maintain the natural oval shape of an egg. Once floating, use a slotted spoon and gently scoop out of the water."
5. Blot dry
"Nothing drives me crazier than when a young cook removes the egg and places it directly onto the plate. You MUST blot the egg on a kitchen towel or paper towel to remove any excess water to prevent watering down your yolk and diluting the flavors of your accompaniments.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of salt and a turn of pepper. You can also poach in different liquids, such as red wine for added flavor."