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A Fool-Proof Way to Poach an Egg

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There are two methods to poach an egg: the traditional one where you drop the egg into water and swirl it and the new modern cling film method. You choose – we show you both.

How to poach an egg the traditional way

1. Place the egg in its shell in boiling water for 30 seconds. This helps to coagulate the outside of the egg so it will hold together when you poach it.

2. Boil 3-4 inches of water in a shallow saucepan. Turn the heat down so the water is simmering and no longer bubbling vigorously. Add half a teaspoon of white wine vinegar to the water.

3. Crack the egg into a ramekin. (Cracking the egg against a soft surface, for example, the edge of a kitchen counter, will stop you breaking the yoke.

4. Stir the water so that you get a whirlpool effect. Slip the egg into the middle of the whirlpool and stir the water around the egg to bring the stray strands of the white of the egg back towards the egg. Cook until the outside of the egg is white (2 minutes for soft, 3 minutes for medium-soft, 4 minutes for rock-hard). Cooking times depend on whether you are using a small, medium or large egg.

5. Lift the poached egg out of the water and drain it on paper towel. Cut around the egg white to give you a neat shape (think of it as giving the poached egg a trim). You can keep the poached eggs in cold water until you need them and reheat them briefly in simmering water.

Here’s an even easier way to poach an egg

Place the egg in a cup. Wrap cling film over the top of the cup and turn the egg into it, scooping the egg and wrapping it with cling film until you have a little bag. Twist the cling film to close the package tightly. Place the package in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. (You can cook up to four eggs at a time this way). When the eggs are cooked, gently peel off the cling film and serve.

Egg Poaching Tips

– Adding the vinegar helps to coagulate the white of the egg but if you use too much, all you will taste is vinegar.

– Always drain your poached eggs well on paper towel if you are serving them on toast or the bread will become soggy.

– You can also microwave eggs in little microwave moulds and you can cook also them in moulded pans or in silicone moulds. This is not a great way of poaching an egg – they look decidedly odd when they are shaped this way and you lose the delicate fluidity of the egg white which is one of the most attractive qualities of a poached egg. If you do choose to cook them this way, remember to oil the mould so you can slip the poached egg onto the plate easily.

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