While developing the story for the How-To section this month, I ran into a bunch of questions I never thought to ask about poached eggs. I’ve given eggs this treatment more times than I can count, but have never given the delicate details a second thought. I decided to do a side-by-side analysis on type of pan, vinegar or not and whether or not to cook the egg in a whirlpool. Here are my findings and I hope you find them as helpful as I found them fascinating.
First, I wanted to see which pan surface worked best, non-stick or stainless. With the non-stick surface, the egg white spread too much while the stainless surface kept it more compact. Stainless wins this battle.
Next up is vinegar versus no vinegar. I used stainless since it won the last time, but added 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar to one pot. There was no difference in flavor or shape of finished egg.
Finally, we have to decide whether or not to swirl the water to make a vortex so that the egg holds its shape better. Since I used farm-fresh eggs for these tests, the results of this one were minor, but the vortex wins. This is especially helpful if the eggs you are using are a little old and the outer-white has become watery. When your poaching liquid comes to temperature, just give it a few stirs to make a whirlpool effect and gently pour the egg in the middle.
So, there you have it. I hope my obsession with poached egg perfection helps you with your next weekend brunch.