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Happy New Year’s Breakfast

January 1, 2012

Many new years ago, back in the Miami days, a bunch of friends went out for a New Year’s Day breakfast in the wee hours of the morning. There was an old bar, Fox’s to be precise, which served a breakfast menu all day.

Naturally I ordered poached eggs.

There is little more soothing and more perfect than a pristine poached egg on toast. Even an egg that is less than pristine will most likely pass muster after a long evening of celebrating the end of one year, and the promise of the next.

Now I don’t know how hard you’ve been partying, or the condition that you may find yourself in right now. It’s possible you still haven’t slept. And it’s possible you feel like death warmed over. But I promise you, if you can boil water, you are half way to salvation.

If you are really desperate to learn how to do this, you can skip this next section.

In the remote wilds of south-central Pennsylvania I happened to find a most amazing natural foods market. In addition to local pasture-fed raw-milk (which I will talk about soon) and aged cheeses from the same raw milk, I found local eggs that were gathered the very same day.

Should you find eggs that are this fresh, there is only one course of action: poach them.

The sad truth is that I’ve never really had great luck making poached eggs. There are some who say the secret is in making a vortex in a pot of simmering water and dropping shelled eggs into the spiraling waters. Others insist upon using a non-stick skillet, which these days I’m avoiding like the plague. Using poaching cups is clearly out of the question, especially down on the farm where equipment is limited.

So I decided to call up my expert on the form, my oldest friend ADS who has his own chickens, and made me the best poached eggs of my life, every morning, on my most recent trip to California. While I tried to watch him in action, I didn’t really take great notes. But after our recent conversation, I now have his secret, which may or may not work for your very old supermarket eggs.

It’s crazy easy. Ready? Here we go.

1)    Boil water in a covered pan deep enough to submerge an egg
2)    Put bread in toaster (but do not start it yet)
3)    Put in a good slug of plain white vinegar
4)    Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the burner
5)    Carefully drop in the eggs, one at a time
6)    Cover the pan
7)    Start the toaster
8)    Wait about three minutes
9)    Poke the eggs with your finger, they should feel done
10) Take them out with a slotted spoon
11) Dry them on a smooth (aka not terrycloth) dish towel
12)  Put them on the toast
13)  Don’t forget salt and fresh ground pepper
14)  Try not to moan too loudly as you enjoy

Now ADS wasn’t sure this method would work for eggs that had seen refrigeration, but it did. And I imagine the older your eggs are, the more prone their whites may be to dispersing in the poaching liquid.

But fear not.

With a little more care you can stack the deck in your favor. Simply crack the eggs into small bowls or cups, and lower them into the simmering water, letting the egg cook slightly in the cup before letting it go into the pan. If this seems challenging to you now, it’s not. It should make a lot more sense as you watch the process in action. Trust me.

Now get some food in your belly, because it’s 2012 dammit, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. Hope you are fired up, because I know that I am. Yargh!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    January 1, 2012 3:37 am

    “If you can boil water, you are halfway to salvation.” I love this – think I’ll use it as my new mantra for 2012! And I think I’ll try this poached eggs method as well…

  2. January 1, 2012 3:47 am

    Mmm….I love perfectly poached eggs on toast. We’ve been getting our eggs for a couple of months now from a friend’s work-friend, who’s husband brought 24 chickens to their backyard instead of the 4 she agreed upon…the eggs come in plucked the same day (usually on Mondays, sometimes Thursdays too). I haven’t poached any of them yet but darned if i won’t now, thanks for the reminder of their deliciousness! I like the methodical nature of ADS’ way – I always used vinegar in the past but now that seems like cheating when it can be so simple to do it right.

  3. January 1, 2012 3:47 am

    yargh, typos: “whose” not “who’s”.

  4. January 1, 2012 3:49 am

    Reading this post, I was saying, put it in a cup. Put it in a cup and lower it into the water. My hot little hands were ready to contribute, but lo! You’ve already gotten there! I’ve done this with all manner of eggs and it almost never fails, except when I get impatient. I also like to turn the egg at some point, but that ends in disaster about 30% of the time so I only attempt it when I’m feeling confident.

    There is little more perfect than a poached egg. If I could sleep on a poached egg, I would. Like Thumbelina, only better.

  5. January 1, 2012 4:01 am

    Yep – vinegar is the trick!

    Happy New Year.

  6. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    January 1, 2012 12:25 pm

    I use a very similar approach, Daniel. However you omitted an essential step: a few drops of Tabasco!

  7. Chris permalink
    January 1, 2012 7:54 pm

    Around here, unless you have chickens in the backyard, the freshest eggs that can be found come from Thomas’ Egg Farm in Schuylerville/Grangerville. Last I knew, they sell Thomas’ eggs at Stewarts Shops although they are packaged as Stewarts eggs, I believe. Check them out! They are some of the freshest eggs I have eaten.

    • January 2, 2012 1:12 pm

      If Thomas’ eggs are the freshest you’ve ever eaten, you need to get yourself to a farmer’s market. Fresher and likely more humanely raised.

      • Chris permalink
        January 2, 2012 6:13 pm

        I have the awesome perk of eating eggs from a friend who has chickens… I get them the day they are laid when they can’t use them all. Not everyone has this luxury and even I have to go and get a dozen eggs sometimes. I just think the Thomas’ eggs are better and fresher than the eggs you get at the grocery store.

  8. January 1, 2012 9:04 pm

    I use a little vinegar and do the swirl, but now I’ll try it this way. I agree with you that a poached egg on toast makes a perfect breakfast. But I could also sub bread for brisket or corned beef hash or a latke or something else delicious. Egg is the bomb.

  9. January 2, 2012 1:16 pm

    I love eggs. More than I love bacon even. That is a LOT of love. I eat eggs if not every day, then at least every other day. Often I just hard boil a couple and bring them to work or hard boil them at work because they’re something quick and wholesome than I can eat on the go.

    I’m only a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never poached an egg. I usually reserve poached eggs for ordering in restaurants. It seems so much easier to do a soft, over easy egg in a little pat of butter for my toast. Probably faster as well. And buttery-er. ;)

  10. Mirdreams permalink
    January 4, 2012 11:12 am

    What is your feeling on coddled eggs? My great-uncle gave me an egg coddling set and I iz in love.

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