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Published: Friday May 2, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday May 2, 2014 MYT 2:51:26 PM

Watch: How to poach eggs - plus three recipes that use them

Poached eggs can be used in a variety of dishes.

Forget the chicken versus egg debate. The real question is: Why do we limit the poached egg’s potential to eggs Benedict or its siblings Florentine, Mornay and Oscar?

There’s so much more poached egg eating beyond Benedict, says cookbook author Michael Ruhlman.

“The poached egg is one of the simplest, most versatile of all egg preparations,” writes Ruhlman, in Egg, his latest book. “There’s pretty much no dish that can’t be improved by the addition of a poached egg.”

From taste to texture, “the poached egg is a really remarkable ingredient on every level,” said Ruhlman, during a phone chat from his Cleveland home. “It’s delicious warm. It’s delicious hot. It’s always enriching.

“The yolk is like a ready-made sauce,” he added. “And the breaking of the yolk is visually dramatic ... It adds multiple elements to a dish where a carrot is just a carrot.”

Sure, tinted hard-cooked eggs star at many Easter celebrations. But poached eggs deserve a place at the holiday brunch table because, well, who wants to fuss with peeling all those decorated eggs? And besides, poached eggs give the cook more options for creative brunch dishes.

Perch them atop mushrooms sauteed with fresh herbs. Try an alternative to corned beef hash, perhaps the potato-beet pairing here. And because eggs can be poached in a sauce or broth just as they can in simmering water, consider this tomato-based sauce from Ruhlman’s Egg. Or try an interpretation of a classic garlicky Provencal soup.

A perfectly poached egg has a runny yolk wrapped up in tender egg white. – SeriousEats/YouTube

How to poach eggs

Adapted from James P. DeWan’s Prep School column.

A poached egg should be warm, have a liquid yolk, a fully cooked white and a neat, oval appearance.

1. Heat about 8cm of water to a boil in a saucepan, then turn down the heat. The water’s surface should be relatively calm, with just a few bubbles at the pan’s sides of the pan and none rising from the centre bottom.

2. Crack an egg into the poaching liquid. If you’ve never done this before, crack the egg into a small bowl, then slide the egg into the pan. Don’t poke the egg. Don’t swirl the water.

3. After about three minutes, use a slotted spoon to gently lift the egg from the liquid. The white should be firm, not jiggly. The yolk should remain liquid. Blot liquid from the egg’s top carefully with a clean towel. Set the bowl of the slotted spoon on the towel to get it dry as possible. Serve.

Eggs can be poached hours or a day in advance. Dip in ice water to stop cooking. Drain then refrigerate in a covered container. To serve, repoach eggs just to warm through, about one minute.

Poached eggs in puttanesca sauce. – Chicago Tribune/MCT

Eggs In Puttanesca Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
In Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient (Little, Brown and Co.), author Michael Ruhlman serves these sauce-cooked poached eggs atop angel hair pasta. But for brunch, we like it served over slices of crusty bread.

1. Chop 1 Spanish onion into small dice. Roughly chop 4 cloves garlic. Cook in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with 1 teaspoon salt. When tender and translucent, add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, stirring to coat with olive oil. Add ½ to 1 cup dry red wine; heat to a simmer. Puree 1 can (28 ounces/800g) whole peeled tomatoes. Add to skillet along with 1 bay leaf or 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or both). Heat to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cook until sauce is thickened, about 1 hour. Sauce can be prepared ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days.

2. Remove and discard bay leaf. Add ½ tablespoon fish sauce or 4 anchovies, roughly chopped, plus ½ cup chopped, pitted Kalamata olives and 2 tablespoons capers. Bring to a full simmer over medium heat, then turn heat to low. Lower 4 eggs into the sauce with a ladle, one at a time, making a small well in the sauce with the ladle to contain it. Cover pan. Cook until whites are set, 3 to 6 minutes. Serve sauce over slices of crusty bread, topped with a poached egg.

Two potato and beet hash with a poached egg. – Chicago Tribune/MCT

Two Potato And Beet Hash
Makes: 4 servings
Adapted from The New Way to Cook Light, by Cooking Light magazine (Oxmoor House).

Saute 1 cup finely chopped onion in a skillet in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 2 cups peeled, cubed Yukon gold potatoes (substitute with any waxy potato variety) and 2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes. Add ½ tablespoon chopped fresh sage, 3 cloves garlic, minced; cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Add 1 cup cubed cooked beets and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook 10 minutes. Meanwhile, poach 4 eggs. Divide hash among four plates; top with a poached egg. Sprinkle with more sage if you like. Serve with frisee or curly endive salad dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Save-your-life garlic soup with poached egg. – Chicago Tribune/MCT

Save-your-life Garlic Soup
Makes: 4 servings
Adapted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan).

Roughly chop about 16 medium peeled cloves garlic (2 heads). In a heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and 12 fresh sage leaves; let sizzle without browning, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 6 cups water. Heat to a boil, then lower to a brisk simmer. Cook 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Ladle an inch (2.5cm) of soup into a skillet; bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, to pan. Poach, about 3 minutes. To serve, place a toasted thick baguette slice in a bowl. Top with a poached egg. Ladle soup atop. Sprinkle with parsley or chives. – Chicago Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, poached egg

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