Episode 42: Poached Eggs

It’s simmertime! No rolling boil here, just a pan of simmering water and the scent of vinegar in the air. What can Molly teach Matthew about poaching eggs? Everything, as it turns out. Recipe: Oeufs en Meurette. www.spilledmilkpodcast.com

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5 thoughts on “Episode 42: Poached Eggs

  1. Beth

    I was recently reading a blog post about egg poaching and saw a method which I thought looked intriguing, though I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. He tried many different methods, and his big winner was to line a ramekin with cook-proof plastic wrap, crack the egg in and gently tie it up, then lower the wrapped egg into the prepared water. Since Molly doesn’t like vinegar, this might be an option to try.

  2. Dan

    I’m here to dazzle you with science:
    The inside of an egg is actually made up of several (spheroid) membranes. the really obvious one is the one between the yolk and the white. But there are a couple of membranes in the white as well. One of the outermost is obliquely referenced in the podcast, that seive trick at the end of the podcast works because the thin outer white that you can sieve off partially seperated by a membrane from the thicker white. There is also a layer of thinner white around the yolk itself but this is pretty hard to make out. The older an egg is the more these other, less visible membranes, will have weakened or dissolved. So old eggs typically make bad poaching eggs. The fresher your eggs the better outcome your poaching will have. Also cold eggs tend to hold together better too. So I keep eggs I’m going to poach in the fridge, this reduces the rate they age and keeps them chilled.

    I’ve always poached eggs by bringing a pot of water to the boil and just cracking the egg straight in to the water. This has never failed me. However that very thin outer white (the one you can sieve off) will usually escape into to the water and make it look untidy/unpleasant. There is a way you can deal with this; once you realise the mess has absolutely no impact on the outcome of the poaching you can cope with it by ignoring it. I appreciate that is a crazy plan but it totally works.

    In the last couple of years, since reading Thomas Keller’s French Laundry book, I’ve adapted his method for poaching quail’s eggs to hen’s eggs. In the his quails eggs method you have a pan of water 12 inches deep, you crack the eggs into the water, as they descend they start to cook and the white pulls around the yolk as a matter of course ( maybe jettisoning some white as they go), once they are nearly done they raise from the bottom and float back towards the surface and you can use this to tell they are done. So for hens eggs I use a pan as deep as I can, once the eggs hits the bottom I keep an eye on it to see when it kind of lifts from the bottom and becomes a bit more mobile. They won’t really float as they are too heavy but you can tell they are nearly done once they aren’t just sitting solidly on the bottom.

    The trouble with the aforementioned plastic wrap method is that, while it does work, it doesn’t really poach your egg. The end results is more like a deformed boiled egg. When you poach an egg what gives the egg the light delicate finish is that the protein in the white has had room to expand and some of the water can get into the expanded protein matrix as it cooks. The plastic wrap method very effectively keeps the water away from the white and keeps the white constrained.

  3. Isabelle

    I’ve long aspired to be able to properly poach eggs, so I loved listening to this episode. Did you know that oeufs en meurette has liaison, so there’s a hard “z” sound between “oeufs” and “en,” kind of like euh-zen meurette? (I hope my comment isn’t too obnoxious.) Looking forward to more shows!

  4. SSteve

    I was on pins and needles waiting to hear what Molly’s poaching method was after she teased us with the two non-methods. Imagine the thrill I experienced when it turned out that her method is exactly the same as mine!

  5. riye

    I just saw Martha Stewart poach a half dozen eggs on her show using the vortex method. Of course her poached eggs looked just perfect–that woman is frightening skilled. I know its television and who is to say she didn’t have to vortex her eggs several times before she got it right but I doubt it.

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