Recipe: Poached Eggs From the Kitchen Window column
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Poached Eggs

You can poach eggs in different-size pans and at different temperatures, but I've found the following method to be the most reliable. For two eggs, use a saucepan that holds about 1.5 quarts. You want about 3 inches of water, so whatever pan you choose should hold that much with some headroom to spare. (Don't listen to those people who tell you to poach eggs in a skillet; it won't hold enough water.) Whichever pan you use, measure the water and use 1.5 teaspoons vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt per quart of water. A thermometer is very handy but not absolutely necessary.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon table salt

2 fresh raw eggs

Pour 1 quart of water into a saucepan that holds about 1.5 quarts. Add the vinegar and salt and heat the water to 205 to 208 degrees. (If you don't have a thermometer, bring the water just to a boil and then turn the heat down so that the bubbling stops. If the water is boiling when the eggs go in, the egg whites will tend to fly apart.)

Use a strainer to separate the thin white — which is discarded — from the thick. Dave Scantland for NPR hide caption

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Dave Scantland for NPR

Use a strainer to separate the thin white — which is discarded — from the thick.

Dave Scantland for NPR

Meanwhile, place a fine strainer over a custard cup, small ramekin or bowl. Crack one egg into it and let the egg sit, undisturbed, for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the strainer (with the egg still in it) and pour out any accumulated thin white from the cup. Carefully tip the egg into the cup. Repeat with the other egg and another cup. (If you have two small strainers, you can do the two eggs simultaneously.)

When the water is hot, tip the eggs, one at a time, into the pan. This works best if you place the lip of the cup right at the surface of the water and tip it quickly so the egg goes in all at once. Be bold: If you hesitate and pour in the egg too slowly, you risk the white separating from the yolk.

The eggs will sit at the bottom of the pan for a minute or so, then start to bob toward the surface. For barely set whites and runny yolks, cook the eggs about 3 1/2 minutes, depending on the temperature of the egg. If your eggs have been out of the refrigerator just long enough to strain, they'll still be cool. If they're at room temperature, then 3 minutes may be enough time. Check the first egg at 3 minutes. If the white around the yolk still looks translucent, give it an additional 30 seconds. If you like your eggs more done, cook for 4 to 4 1/2 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and, if desired, drain very briefly on a paper towel. (If the egg sits on the paper towel more than a couple of seconds, it may stick.)

To make poached eggs for a crowd, follow the preceding instructions. Fill a large bowl about half full of ice and water, and have it close to your poaching setup. Cook the eggs for 3 minutes; you want them slightly undercooked. As the eggs cook, remove and place in the bath, adding ice as necessary to keep the water ice cold. When you're ready to serve your eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the eggs and cook for 20 to 30 seconds to warm through. The eggs are best used the day they're cooked, but they can be kept overnight.