Probably my favorite breakfast, the one that I always fancy no matter how often I eat it, is one or two poached eggs, served on top of some toast and sprinkled with a little truffle salt and some black pepper. A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked by poaching, that is, in simmering liquid. This method of preparation is favored because a very consistent and predictable result can be obtained with precise timing, as the boiling point of water removes the temperature variable from the cooking process (except for the need to adjust for altitude, given that the boiling point of water decreases as altitude increases, but that’s another story). Poaching eggs couldn’t be easier to prepare, let me tell you. It’s also a great low-calorie way to prepare eggs — you don’t need to use added fat to cook them, as you would with scrambled or fried eggs. Not only do poached eggs make a great breakfast all on their own (with a little salt and pepper and maybe some toast), you can also use them to top a French salad Lyonnaise, bathe them in luxurious Hollandaise sauce in an Eggs Benedict, or go super healthy and serve them over sautéed greens.
Let’s start by saying: for your poached eggs, make sure you use the freshest eggs you possibly can and you shouldn’t have any problems. The better the quality, the better the flavour, no doubt about it. Get yourself a wide, casserole-type pan and fill it with boiling water from the kettle. Bring it to a light simmer over a medium heat, then add a pinch of sea salt. Crack one of your eggs into a cup and gently pour it into the water in one fluid movement. Repeat this operation with the other egg.
You’ll see them begin to cook immediately – don’t worry if the edges look a little scruffy. Depending on your pan, a really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes and a soft to firm one will need 4 minutes (it depends on the size of the eggs and whether you’re using them straight from the fridge). To check whether poached eggs are done, remove one carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and give it a gentle push with a teaspoon.
If it feels too soft (use your instincts), put it back and give the eggs a minute or two more in the water to firm up. When poached eggs are ready, remove them to some kitchen paper to dry off and serve with buttered toast and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.