How to Poach an Egg

My grandmother was fiery woman. If you were doing something wrong, she’d tell you. She was feisty in a way that only grannies who are under 5 feet can be. The kind of grandma who walked with a cane but usually left it hanging from a railing three rooms away because she was in too much of a hurry to get where she was going. The kind who lived through the Depression with immigrant parents and wasted nothing even 70 years later. She washed and reused her ziploc bags well before being ‘green’ was a thing. She rarely used her dryer but instead hung her wash on the line outside in the warmer months, or on the lines hung in her basement during the winter. And she started every recipe the same way, “First you blow the dust out of the bowl,” something I do pretty much daily. My mom and I were just talking about how she was generally right about most things when it came to cooking. Her refusal to use margarine despite the popularity of it during her lifetime is one of those things. Or talking about her father who lived to be 83 and often ate bread slathered in lard and pepper. That story always really grossed me out as a kid. Turns out, he was probably better off than anyone who listened to the ‘conventional’ wisdom of the 20th century that told us to use Crisco instead of pig fat. Whether or not keeping your griddle under your bed was a good idea…that one we’ll leave unanswered. But on the Crisco/lard/butter/margarine issues, Grandma won.

One of fondest memories of childhood is having sleep overs at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I’m sure we all have these. For some reason I was generally prepared for the day on the kitchen table…I always had a nice bath with Grandma’s soap and her scratchy towels….and I always had a poached egg in the morning and tea in my kid-sized tea cup. Grandmas should always have a wide selection of fancy tea cups to choose from.

The egg poaching was something that I always found a mystery. How did she do that? She had a little pot of water on the stove and out would come a perfect egg with a deliciously runny yolk. Learning how to do it was on my list of things to do for a long time but I imagined it was a lot harder than it really is. I really don’t remember much else about those breakfasts. I’m sure we had small glasses of juice because there were always small glasses of juice. I know we sat in the dinning room instead of the kitchen, and I’m guessing there was toast to go along with the egg and tea because toast is something Grandma probably would have eaten for every meal. And with good reason. Toast is awesome. Mainly though, my memory focuses on a tea cup, the poached egg, and being very careful not to spill on the upholstered dinning room chair on which I sat.

Turns out egg poaching is pretty easy if you follow the steps. It might not be hard, but it’s still sort of fancy and for that, I give it two thumbs up.

1. Use a fresh egg. Crack it into a small bowl before starting.

2. Heat a small pot of water on high with the lid on until it just starts to boil.

3. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat to low so it stops bubbling.

4. Using a spoon, swirl the water in the pot to create a whirlpool.

5. As the whirlpool spins, slide your egg into the pot. Let it swirl around and ignore the little wisps of egg white that rise or detatch.

6. Let the egg sit for about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift it up out of the water. If you see any runniness in the egg white, stick it back in the water for another minute.

7. Lift your perfectly poached egg out of the water with the spoon. Give a few light taps to shake off the water, then add it to your toast, pasta, or whatever it is you’re eating it on.

8. Devour. And make sure you have something to sop up the yolk.

I don’t think my grandma ever made pesto because she was Austrian, not Italian but you know, it’s pretty delicious on top of pesto. Can you tell what the next post will be on?

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4 Comments on “How to Poach an Egg”

  1. Jessica says:

    I just recently learned how to poach an egg myself and now it’s my favorite way to prepare them! So delicious.

  2. Alisha, this is a fabulous tutorial! No matter how many times I poach an egg, it always comes out differently. I’m following your lead this weekend 🙂

  3. […] the fish atop the orzo and top the whole thing off with your perfectly poached egg. Garnish with a lemon […]


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