Perfect on toast or as a companion to almost any savory dish, poached eggs are also great for your health. Packing in tons of protein without any extra saturated fat from frying or scrambling in butter or oil, poached eggs are the little black dress of breakfast and can be fancied up however you like. Try serving them with sliced fresh avocado and a drizzle of hot sauce, on top of a home-baked veggie hash, or as a protein-rich topping to a steaming bowl of ramen noodles.
Although poached eggs contain only one ingredient, they can be deceptively tricky to make. Poaching involves cooking the egg in simmering water, but depending on the method, it is possible to end up with a burst yolk, countless floating ribbons of egg white and a ton of frustration. With a bit of strategy and practice, however, you can get beautiful, round, hard poached eggs every time.
Pick the Freshest
As eggs age, their whites lose structure. Fresher eggs tend to spread less after you crack them, so when poaching, use eggs that you've bought just recently. If you have backyard chickens, that's even better! Go ahead and poach your eggs directly from the fridge, too, while they're still cold; letting them come to room temperature can increase the eggs' volume after you crack them. Think of your eggs like butter – easy to spread once warm, but nice and compact when chilled in the fridge.
Simmer, Don't Boil
A rolling boil is powerful enough to split apart your egg, even if you tip it into the pan with care from a small bowl or jar. You want the water you use hot enough to cook your egg, of course, but a simmer is better than a boil for poaching. Put the pan on medium heat and wait until several small trails of bubbles are making their way from the bottom to the top: that's your simmer and the ideal time to drop in your egg.
Keep the Time
The perfect hard poached egg is firm without being rubbery and has a yolk that is completely cooked through and won't run when pierced with a fork. There is a fine line, however, between a soft poached egg with a runny yolk and a poached egg that is overcooked. Getting the texture you want may require some experimentation, as it depends on how hot your water is and how much the egg cools it down. To start, err on the side of undercooking and check the egg after three minutes. If you can poke the yolk with a spoon and it's still very soft, continue cooking and check every 30 seconds until the yolk is cooked through. A typical hard poached egg requires about four minutes of simmering.