Perfect Poached Eggs

After a long day when we're too tired to cook, you'll often find our family going in for a good round of poached eggs. Eggs that come from local farms are often much fresher than supermarket eggs — sometimes as much as several months fresher. Being extremely fresh, the whites and yolks of eggs sourced from local farms are much simpler to use when making a delicate dish like poached eggs. We find they're far less likely to fly apart in the cooking water, and our family agrees that the flavor is also much better.

What is the perfect poached egg?

In the view of the Bluestem farmers, a perfect poached egg is coherent and rounded and doesn't turn into egg drop soup when you try to cook it. The cooking time we suggest results in a yolk of medium doneness—not thoroughly dry, not soft enough to leak through your toast. Cooking times for very soft eggs can veer as short as 3.5 minutes, while a well-done but still custardy yolk will require more like 6.5  minutes. For food safety reasons, the FDA recommends hard-cooking eggs to a temperature of 160°.


2 eggs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups very hot water

The first step is to heat the water, salt and vinegar in a saucepan until it's at a good rolling boil. When you're ready to drop in the eggs, turn down the heat down or off so that the water calms down completely.

Because you’re going to dunk the eggs in the water without the aid of a container, simmering—or even worse, boiling—water at this stage will result in the enemy of good poached eggs everywhere, a hairball of feathery whites.

If you really want to go after perfection, you can further discourage the whites feathering on you by cracking them one by one into a tea strainer over the sink before dumping them into the cooking water. The thinnest of the albumen will run out through the strainer, leaving behind its more cohesive cohort. In farm-fresh eggs, there's often a marked difference between these two thicknesses of egg white.

With one hand on the tea strainer and one hand on a spoon, then, swirl the water in the cooking pot. Dump the first egg in, allow the white to whiten and set a bit, followed by the other one. You can turn up the heat now to a calm, steady simmer. When the second egg is in and has begun to set a bit, set a timer for 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

Drain each cooked egg through the original tea strainer, giving it a good shake before plating it. (A damp piece of toast is second only to feathery egg whites in ruining a good poached egg experience.)

Serve the eggs with salt, plenty of freshly ground pepper, a warm salad of greens and some good hearty toast.

See this recipe and others like it each month in our Eat Like a Farmer column in the Petoskey News-Review

Mary BrowerComment