There are lots of tricks to making poached eggs. Add vinegar to the water, swirl the water into a vortex, slip the egg gently into the water from a mug, plop the egg into the water so its momentum holds it together. Boil the water, simmer the water, once the egg is in turn the heat off altogether. Well, here's my number one poached egg tip: Don't.
Photo: Steven Guzzardi
Poached eggs are great — in a restaurant. Professional chefs know how to make them, and I won't belittle the pleasure of cutting into a perfectly poached egg, topping some sort of Benedict tower, warm yolk mixing with hollandaise sauce.
But without extreme skill or special equipment, a homemade poached egg is liable to be a lumpy, misshapen mess, half its white lost to frothy boiling water, with undercooked whites or overcooked yolks, and, honestly, usually very ugly.
If you want cooked whites and runny yolks, with consistent results every time, I have two words for you: soft boil.
The only advantage poached eggs have over soft-boiled is that they lay flatter — and are roughly the same diameter as an English muffin. But soft-boiled eggs are superior in every other respect: they are easier, cleaner, and more consistent than poached eggs. You can cook them in larger batches. I love them. I am never poaching another egg at home as long as I live.
Bring a pot of water — enough water to cover your eggs — to boil. Add your eggs, slowly, so they don't crack. Cook for six and a half minutes, gently moving the eggs around once or twice so the yolks are centered in the egg.
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water for thirty seconds. Peel. Place atop whatever you want to place them atop. Admire their symmetry, their beauty, and their ease. Never look back.
This story has been updated since its original publication.