Poaching eggs - will this work or fail?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by gobblygook, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Yes, I should just go try it, but right now, stuck in front of a computer, so I thought I'd lean on the vast experience here.

    I've watched videos of how to properly poach an egg, but I keep wondering if my "lightbulb" thought might work.  The idea would be to use a metal ladle, break the egg into the ladle, then push the ladle into the water so that water can almost get in.  Allow the egg to set somewhat in a coagulated state (so the egg doesn't fall apart in the water), then push the ladle down so that the egg is covered in water, then remove the ladle, leaving the egg in one piece to finish poaching. 

    The idea was "inspired" by an old egg poacher my mother had, which effectively simply steamed the egg in a little metal dish.  Because it was steamed in the dish, of course it kept the shape of the dish when removed, which would surely be frowned upon.  I thought my method above might keep the egg in one piece (instead of eggdrop soup) without having to swirl the water and add (I think it was vinegar) to assist in coagulation. 

    Any thoughts?

    Backstory/blabbering... I don't eat eggs often.  I developed some aversion to eggs (something of a mental block), so much that I avoid mayo unless absolutely required.  One of the semi-recent Hell's Kitchen episodes had the contestants battling to create a hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, poached, and fried egg "to perfection".  I never knew that the results of soft boiled (completely unset yolk) was even a desired level of cooking.  My concern about my brainchild above is that I'm not sure if a poached egg is "required" to have the yolk fully covered on all sides by the white.  I'm thinking a different size ladle might allow for a completely incapsulated yolk, but again, would have to test.  Since I wouldn't eat the eggs, I would prefer not to just try it for the sake of trying.  And yes, to prove I'm completely neurotic, I think of eggs as "aborted chickens".  However, I'll eat chicken without a quarrel, so I'm not a PETA type.  I just have a mental block against eggs, most likely bred by the media with "eggs are bad for you" (since mostly debunked) and "raw eggs carry salmonella and will kill you".  Sadly, I still cook pork to grey and rubbery stages too. 
     
  2. eloki

    eloki

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Except you'll find that your egg will stick to the ladle after it's poached.  Well, unless your ladle is nonstick or seasoned...
     
  3. cookinmt

    cookinmt

    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I don't mean any offense by this, but what about the swirling water or the vinegar intimidates you?  There are thousands of contraptions already on the market for doing exactly what you intend, but the whole "swirling vinegar and water" trick is pretty darn cheap and easy!
     
  4. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

    Messages:
    2,753
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    Other
    I totally agree with a splash of vinegar in a simmering - NOT boiling - small pot of water.  Break the egg into a teacup or something similar, then swirl the water around until you get a nice whirlpool going.  Gently slide the egg in, as low to the top of the water as you can, into the middle and let cook for about 3 minutes.  Make sure the water does not boil, just a steady bubbling simmer.  I take them out with a slotted spoon and let it drain, in the spoon on top of a teatowel, for maybe 20 seconds while excess water drips off, then serve as you want it.

    It may take some practice, but once it works you can almost do it with your eyes shut, and they are so tasty.  And you don't have to think of them as being aborted - they were not fertilised in the first place, it's just what hens do regardless.  They lay eggs whether or not they have been bred.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  5. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Made eggs Benedict  last mothers day for the wife (she loves hollandaise sauce), was always intimidated by the whole poached egg thing. Then I tried it, found it to be relatively easy using the vinegar and whirlpool technique. Ironically I found out later she would have preferred her egg over easy. What would that be, eggs kinda Benedict?

    Side note. I saw that episode of Master Chef and noticed they (the judges) were talking about poaching an egg in red wine. How does that work, same technique? 100% red wine or is it diluted? Or was I hearing things?
     
  6. cookinmt

    cookinmt

    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Nah, you weren't hearing things.  There really aren't many cooking liquids you can't poach an egg in, and red wine (straight or diluted with water or a stock) is perfectly harmless.
     
  7. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    But does it make much of a difference in the end flavor? Or is it a fancy way to use expensive ingredients to make breakfast? Give me waffles w/ strawberries and whipped cream w/ a good cup of coffee and some sausage for my money.
     
  8. cookinmt

    cookinmt

    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    The cooking liquid can make a difference to both the flavor and color, but given an egg's short cooking time, it's subtle.  I don't think it's worth it, unless the alternate liquid is already part of the dish.  Like, I'll poach eggs in simmering beef broth when I make loco moco, rather than fry the eggs separately.  You can poach 'em in enchilada sauce when making a huevos rancheros style breakfast too.  I'm sure there are more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  9. iplaywithfire

    iplaywithfire

    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    It's very worth it in a professional kitchen, where ingredients can build up over a couple days.  Say your establishment sells a lot of wine by the glass, for example.  It would be possible to utilize remnants of wine (from bottles that would not make a full glass for proper sale) to create a poaching liquid.  It is a way for the chef to 1. offer something unique that would be way too expensive for at-home cooks to replicate   2. make use of what would otherwise be considered waste on the books and go into staff meal, stock, or any other some-such.  Granted, I can think of many other ways to utilize wine that would showcase it better for ones palate, but if your establishment is the sort of place where that kind of thing is a crowd pleaser, then have at it, I say.  A little debauchery on the plate in the morning can make anyone's day go better.
     
  10. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Sweet, so you can charge more if you cook something in a fancy liquid you were gonna throw away anyway... that's genius.
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    198
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I don't get the leftover wine thing for restaurant service.  Please 'splain.

    As I understood the restaurant wine setup up until now:  If it's wine sold by the bottle, you can't (legally) use the leftovers.  If it's wine sold by the glass, there aren't leftovers; i.e., you pour to the dregs, and if that doesn't fill the glass just open a new bottle of the same ol' same ol'.

    So, where are the leftovers?

    And even if you are somehow collecting bottles with less than a 5 or 6 oz serving each in them -- you've got to collect a half dozen bottles for enough red wine to poach a few eggs.  When you consider time is money and storage is gold, isn't it easier and cheaper to crack a bottle of Two Buck Chuck?

    Perplexed,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  12. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I've never done it.  When I've seen it done, usually some of the white is separated from the main mass, ending up with less than a full egg.  The way poached eggs are discussed on TV, they are supposed to be very difficult to do properly.  Again, I've never done one, but I figure my first one would look pretty bad. 
     
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    198
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    That old "automatic egg poacher" didn't actually poach the eggs it steamed them.  While steamed eggs have their charms, poaching is better.  Fortunately, poaching is easy.

    The keys are a big enough poaching bath, and the right amount of salt and acid in the poaching liquid.  

    Technique makes a difference, the best is to break an egg into a small "monkey" bowl, and hold it one hand while you swirl the other.  When you've got your gentle whirlpool going, slide the egg into it while you keep (gently) swirling.  Keep swirling (gently, gently, always gently) until the whites start to seize.  That way, you're not trying to break the egg at the same time you're trying to keep the water moving.

    But even with the best technique there will be tendrils of white floating away from the body of the egg.  It's the nature of eggs not to be perfect.  There are two main ways to deal with that.  The "fast and dirty" method is to plate them directly from the poaching bath; and as you do, roll the egg so it wraps the tendrils around the egg, and leaves them on the bottom when the egg goes down on the plate. 

    The "clean" way is to remove the eggs from the poaching water into a cool or cold water bath.  You can add as many as you like.  When you're done cooking your eggs, use your hand or a spider to gently scoop one out of the bath, and then use a scissors to snip off any loose whites.  Return to the bath and repeat until all the egss are trimmed.  At service time, use a slotted spoon or a spider to remove an egg from the cold bath and lower it into a hot water bath for 35 seconds or so -- just long enough to warm it up, but not enough to cook it further.  Since you don't have to swirl, you can even double up on your eggs.  As you can see, this is a good way to hold poached eggs for up to a few hours; and cuts time at service to about 35 seconds per pair of eggs; both of which allows you to prepare poached egg dishes like Hussarde or Benedict for a big brunch crowd.

    Do not fear the poach.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL

    PS.  Here's another tip for that brunch:  Hollandaise can be held in a thermos for a couple of hours.   This reduces the "hard part" to the potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and toasting the muffins.  You can certainly handle that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

    Messages:
    7,337
    Likes Received:
    574
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    OP your post is hillarious.  I've never heard of anyone that has such an aversion to eggs but also have an interest in how to poach them.  What will you do with this knowledge?

    I have found that the best way to poach eggs (for me) is to drop them in simmering water with vinegar and salt.  I don't swirl it I don't worry about tendrils, I just let it do its thing.  There's no reason to fuss, it will branch out in tendrils no matter what so let go of the fear and the stress and don't try to stop it.  Once it's cooked I scoop it out and place it on a paper towel and just leave it there until I'm ready to plate.  The tendrils fold in on themselves without effort.  Unless I'm making poached eggs for 20 people then it doesn't get cold and even if it does go cold I pour massive amounts of hollandaise over it to warm it up /img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif
     
  15. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    In a ladle ??  If you are going to go through that break an egg in a monkey dih cover with water, place in 1000w. micro wave and push button. Comes out perfect everytime and since under water, does not get tough. Consistency ,each one the same look and shape. This is meant for home use.

    In food service volume, we 1/2 poach then put in cold water bath. Finish cooking a la minute .Drain well, no water on muffin or plate
     
  16. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I'm planning to use it to take over the world!  I'm a restaurant owner wanna-be.  I'm also a Hell's Kitchen contestant wanna-be (the restaurant is far more likely to occur).  When I hear great chefs say that poaching an egg well is very hard to master, that sounds like a "challenge".  For reference, it was said on both Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef (about being very hard to do properly).  Besides, unlike things like fatty goose livers, eggs are something that I would have to serve in a restaurant. 
     
     
  17. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Thanks to both of you who mentioned holding in a cold water bath.  Obviously, that can't be done with fried eggs, but I never thought that cooking the eggs in batches and then heating to order would even be an option.  Silly me. 
     
     
  18. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    181
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    One problem with the whirlpool thing is that if you want to poach a bunch of eggs, you pretty much have to do them one at a time. You can slide your egg from the little bowl and, as it sits, just gently use the bottom of a slotted spoon to wrap the tendrils around the top of the egg. It's not going to be perfect, but you will have a lot less to trim off later (see BDL's post about that). The other thing is that sometimes eggs can stick to the bottom of the pan, and this gentle back-of-spoon thing makes them move just a little --- and once your egg has moved a little, it won't stick again.

    If you get a chance, watch Jacques Pepin poach eggs. He's very good at it, unsurprisingly.
     
  19. cookinmt

    cookinmt

    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Like many of the topics on CT, it's pretty amusing how something as seemingly simple as "poaching an egg" can be thought out and addressed so specifically and in so many ways.  :D

    To further flummox the topic and elaborate on the "proper sized poach bath" factor:  temperature management is probably the single biggest hurdle when learning poachers (or any eggs), and doing it right means a proper vessel.  Too many eggs introduced to a small, just simmering bath, and the water will cool.  Your eggs will try to stick if you can't get the temperature up fast enough.   Conversely, one or two eggs in a larger, boiling bath means it wont cool at all, and you'll need to cool the water down yourself before they explode. 

    Since many home cooks work on electric coils, temp adjustments can be slower to register.  That means having the right sized bath for the job, and having the bath held at temperature where any potential cooling is accommodated.  You get that down, and you can omit the vinegar and salt and other wacky incantations designed to make it all easier.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010
  20. titomike

    titomike

    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Touche...

    We're the 'Arrested Development' of kitchens so I have'nt got 100% tyrannical control of my chefs & owners....yet! Consequently, it does my head in that they 'suspect' quality issues with pre-poached eggs & yet will let the rest of the plate/table slooowly turn to sh*t while they turn poaching an egg into parting the Red sea. Ya can lead a horse to water.....

    As for the the OP's 'lightbulb' ....I, personally, am in the business of making innovations like that work and know it would be doable if it had a raison d'etre....i.e. a why(I don't have enough ladles for breakfast)?

    Perhaps...

    I do Gado Gado which is garnished with a hard boiled egg, orders are infrequent enough we decided we preferred using a single poached egg. I always have a pot of simmering water on the hobb with a ladle so just use this and a pan...job done.

    However, there is the rest of the major action goin' on at the same time...don't need another pan in my way and still want my egg perfectly cooked & possibly held briefly while plating. I have a bar shelf above the hotline where we hang the ladles...do you see where I'm goin' with this...think I'll try one tonight...