Poaching Eggs the Really Easy Way

It stuns me the amount of people who when discussing the cooking of a humble egg will admit that they cannot poach one. It seems the simple skill of dropping a cracked egg into a pan of boiling water is one that has been lost down the centuries and now relies on microwave gadgets to ever get done correctly, but seriously, it’s easy.

Let’s break it down into its constituent parts. You need a pan, filled with water which you then boil and then put an egg in.

Think I’ve covered everything. But wait, what about vinegar in the water, swirling it around, having a huge pan or even using one of those little gadgets that allows you to create perfectly formed eggs like they came right out of a battery-hen?

No, none of those things is necessary and so I present here and now the absolute easiest, idiot-proof way to cook a poached egg. It’ll be stunning in its brilliance but simple in its execution.

The Pan

OK, I’ve already mentioned the pan of water, so what type of pan? Depends on how many eggs you’re going to cook but I tested a small one this morning and got two perfect eggs. It was the size up from a milk-pan, you’d normally use it to boil peas. For four eggs use the next pan up and for six, use the biggest pan in your cupboard. Many people say you should use a massive pan because the ‘plop’ of the egg into the water forms the shape. That just wastes water and heat so don’t bother.

Fill the pan so it’s about two thirds full and get it boiling.

The Eggs

I always keep my eggs in the fridge and I can honestly say I can see no difference other than in cooking time between taking them right out or leaving them to warm to room temperature. If you’re baking a cake then it probably matters but if you’re just going to be cooking the blighters, don’t worry about it.

Crack your eggs and plop them into the boiling water.

The technique

The minute the last egg hits the water, switch off the heat. If you’re using an electric cooker then you need to move the pan away from the hob so any latent heat doesn’t upset things.

Pop the lid on the pan and set your timer for four minutes if two eggs, five minutes if four. Pop the toast in the toaster.

Go back to the pan when the timer beeps and lift one of your eggs with an egg spoon and check the consistency. By now it should be firm but still wobbly. I find five minutes is about right so assuming they’re not runny, whip ’em out on to the toast and voila! Perfect eggs.

See, told you it was easy!