A poached egg atop a thick slice of toasted Levain glistening with melting creamy butter is my idea of breakfast perfection.
However, poaching an egg can be a maddening conundrum. The perfect poached egg is relative to your expectations of course, but for me, the essence of a poached egg is a billowy white cloud shrouding a silky fluid golden yolk. We’ve all encountered perfectly shaped oval poached eggs in restaurants and hotel buffets. Lovely to the eye, but often rubbery and less appealing otherwise. Appearances can be deceiving.
Poaching methods abound, all promising the perfect poached egg, and I have tried them all, and come to the conclusion that the simple old fashioned method is still the best way to go. As I have mentioned before, the French and eggs have had a long standing less is more relationship in the kitchen, a retrained approach to cooking eggs that releases the essence of an egg’s subtlety; soft, delicate, and bursting with natural flavor. This is certainly true of poached eggs as well.
Using fresh (organic) eggs is priority, but in reality, unless there are hens in your backyard, your chances of getting truly fresh eggs in this day and age are nearly nil. Not to worry! Using the method that follows will be forgiving, and while maybe not delivering the most perfectly shaped poached egg, it will deliver the essence of what a poached egg should be; soft and billowy, with a rich flowing golden yolk with the prick of a fork.
Poached Egg on Toasted Levain: serves 1
Note: Several eggs may be poached together assuming the pan allows ample room. Once the eggs are poached they can be held in a cold water bath and reheated in hot water before serving.
- I thick slice levain (rustic sourdough bread), toasted
- salted creamery butter
- 1 organic egg
- water to generously cover the egg
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- flaked sea salt (Maldon salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Crack the egg into a small shallow bowl or saucer and set aside.
Slice the levain and toast while the egg is poaching. Butter before placing the poached egg on top of the toasted levain.
Heat the water to the point where bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan without coming to a boil. Add the vinegar and salt to the water and sir until the salt has dissolved.
Using a small wooden spoon, create a clockwise whirlpool in the center of the pan and slip the egg into the center of the whirlpool while continuing the clockwise circular motion around the egg. This will center and set the egg white around the yolk, eliminating spreading and feathering of the egg white, which can spread, especially with a less than fresh egg.
Once the egg is centered and holding its shape you can stop the circular stirring. When the water is nearing a simmer reduce the heat so it will not boil, leaving the egg undisturbed until the egg white has firmed up and the white covering the yolk has become opaque. Total cooking time will be 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the egg.
Using a slotted spoon slipped under the egg, gently lift the egg out of the pan. Tilt side to side briefly to drain off excess water. Blot the spoon on a paper towel and then slip the egg off the spoon on top of the toasted levain. Serve with flaked sea salt (Maldon salt) and freshly ground pepper at the table.