The search for the perfect poached egg

One of my favourite meals is Eggs Florentine (a.k.a Spinach Eggs Benedict): Wonderful hollandaise sauce on top of a delicious poached egg with a runny yolk, spinach and cheese, all on top of an English muffin. Yum. Unfortunately here in Spain I came to understand the full meaning of a “continental breakfast”. Basically breakfast here is a cookie or a pastry. Having eggs for breakfast is a (literally) foreign concept. Therefore the concept of brunch is not well understood by the locals and requires an odd sort of explanation on my part “It’s a strong American style breakfast but at lunch time…you know eggs and pancakes…umm that flat thing that you see in tv shows that are stacked up and you pour syrup over it…ok yeah I guess you can say that it’s what you eat when you have a hangover and wake up late and want to eat breakfast…”. So needless to say people do not really go out for brunch and therefore there really aren’t many places to fill my craving for Eggs Benedict. Since I like in a city with a lot of ex-pats I did manage to find 3 places that actually serve brunch, though unfortunately their Eggs Florentine was sad compared to the wonderfulness I get back home.

Therefore I set out on a quest to figure out how to make it at home. I thought that the biggest challenge would be to make the hollandaise sauce. Upon searching I found some classic stove top recipes and even simpler blender recipes (subject of a later post). I mean it’s just eggs and butter blended together, so it should be easy right? Though, before making a batch of the wonderful sauce I had to at least try to make a poached egg as I had never made one before. I tried making one a few years ago without any research and cracked an egg into boiling water. Big mistake. Therefore this time I did some research and found the following basic instructions that look deceptively simple:

What you need:

  • Egg
  • Small pot of water
  • 1-2 tsp of white vinegar
  • Small bowl

Steps:

  1. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer
  2. Add vinegar to the water
  3. Crack the egg into the small bowl
  4. Stir the simmering water so that it creates a kind of whirlpool
  5. Gently drop the egg into the center of the funnel
  6. Once the egg is cooked remove it with a slotted spoon and enjoy!

Sounds simple enough and if you see many videos online it looks simple as well. Upon seeing all that I was very motivated and excited. Finally I would be able to make some wonderful poached eggs and therefore can make my own Eggs Florentine!

Reality:

Attempt # 1: I had no white vinegar so tried to go without it. Fail. I had an egg yolk cooking and strings of whites floating in the water. I had to throw the whole thing out.

Attempt #2: Ok so looks like I needed vinegar as that seems to be the key to ensure the egg forms together. The only thing we had in the house was balsamic vinegar. I saw one recipe mention that you could use it to add an interesting flavour and a nice colour. Yeah, no. Disaster. On the upside the eggs whites did not disperse as much but on the down the red poached eggs had the intense taste of balsamic vinegar.

Attempt #3: Bought white vinegar and this time I actually had something resembling a poached egg. The whites still dispersed through the water and turned it a milky colour which made it hard to figure out if the egg was cooked. Also it seemed to take forever to cook the egg whites which did remain attached to the yolk. I could consider it a mild success as I did eat it but I am still not happy with the results. Too much egg white was lost and the eggs tasted very watery. Also somehow some off the egg whites became burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pot.

I am still determined to make some Eggs Florentine but first I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. I saw a recipe online on how to make a poached egg in the microwave, so hopefully that will turn out better.  Either way I am still working on it and will post some photos once I am satisfied with the results.

If you are a pro let me know if you have any tips!

K

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  1. #1 by ckitchenbuddies on September 26, 2010 - 9:33 pm

    I was reading online and it said to bring the water to a boil and then lower it before adding the egg.

  2. #2 by tkitchenbuddies on September 27, 2010 - 2:33 pm

    I’m not sure if you’ve read this too, but online I read, “There’s a watery membrane that needs to be shaken off a poached egg, otherwise it seems liquidy and undercooked.”

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