Poached Eggs from How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food

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Restaurant-style fare at home and easy to master.

TIME 10 minutes
MAKES 1 or 2 servings

2 eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put about 1 inch of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the water barely bubbles.

2. Crack one of the eggs on a flat, hard surface and open it into a shallow bowl, being careful not to break the yolk. Gently slip it into the water. Repeat with the other egg.

3. Cook the eggs undisturbed for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the white is set and the yolk has filmed over. The longer you cook them, the thicker the yolks become. Lift the eggs out of the pan with a slotted spoon, letting as much water as possible drain off. (If you want to make them look really nice, trim off the raggedy bits with kitchen shears.) Serve right away, sprinkled with salt and pepper.

If the water isn’t hot enough, the whites will spread out and won’t set; furious bubbling will break the yolks. Keep an eye on the water and adjust the heat as necessary.

Easy does it so you avoid breaking the yolk. Lower the bowl’s edge into the water so the egg slips out smoothly.

Let each one drain in the slotted spoon for a few seconds before serving. The more the egg jiggles when you shake the spoon, the runnier the yolk is.

For a change from toast ,try serving poached eggs on rice, noodles, or potatoes.

If you boil an egg in its shell for 6 minutes, you have a perfect substitute for a poached egg. Run under cold water, crack the shell, and peel—gently—as you would a hard-boiled egg.

You can poach as many eggs as will fit comfortably in the water, so use as large a pan as you need. To keep the eggs from clumping together, let each set a bit before adding the next. Try to keep track of which went in first and take them out in the same order.

To poach eggs for a large group, poach them ahead of time, but take them out of the water about 30 seconds earlier than you normally would and transfer them to bowl of ice water. Before serving, reheat them in gently bubbling water.