I have tried all the usual tips for making perfect poached eggs; swirling the water and adding vinegar etc. but always seem to end up with a slightly watery, stringy mess. The eggs always taste ok but could look significantly better. When friends come to stay, rather than stress over the outcome, breakfast is always accompanied by fail safe scrambled eggs.
So, even though Heston’s method looked a bit of a faff I decided to give it a go anyway and I was actually pleasantly surprised.
There are two important factors in this method: The egg and the temperature of the water.
The egg has to be very fresh. Apparently, the older the egg; the more watery the egg white and watery whites separate into strands when you try to poach them. The way to test the freshness of your egg is to place it in a jug of cold water – fresh eggs sink and older eggs float. This is because a small pocket of air in the end of the egg expands over time causing it to rise up to the top of the water. Older eggs which are in date are still good to eat and can be scrambled or used in omelettes or for baking.
Heston also broke his egg into a draining spoon to ensure that any wateriness drained off before placing it in the water. I only have a slotted spoon and the whole of the egg white slid through so I didn’t bother with that bit.
The water should be heated to 80 ° c and an upturned plate placed in the pan to protect the egg from contact with the residual heat in the pan.
Now you are ready to cook. Place the egg gently in the water, remove the pan from the heat and set a timer for exactly 4 minutes. When the time is up, remove the egg and eat it.
If you have a thermometer and a timer it really is as simple as it sounds and the eggs produced by this method have wonderfully soft, just set whites and the most perfectly runny, rich, yellow yolks.
So next time we have friends to stay? Well they’ll probably still get scrambled eggs because they are easier to scale up and I am essentially lazy at heart. But scrambled eggs taste great too…