Julia Child offered to teach me to poach an egg. And I declined. I had my reasons; I was in labor. But I regret the opportunity missed.
I know how it's supposed to work: the steaming water, the splash of vinegar, the swirling vortex. Nonetheless, I end up with something that looks like a supernova, surrounded by nebulae. A mess.
When Mother's Day comes around, I daydream of smoked salmon Benedict smothered in hollandaise and achieve a nightmare of egg strands.
So this year, I decided to try something different: Learn. I opened a big reference book and peered at it anxiously while my teens rolled their eyes. They sighed: Try YouTube.
There I found a new technique, involving a fine mesh strainer. Which worked. The strainer drains off pre-straggle. And it makes egg handling easy.
That's the thing about motherhood: It's always an education.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
1 very fresh egg
1 tablespoon vinegar
(white, wine or cider: all delicious)
Calibrate: Fill a large saucepan with water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Lower to less than a simmer: Tiny bubbles will be visible on the bottom of the pan, but none will break the surface of the water.
Strain: Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Crack in the egg. Gently rock the sieve back and forth — some white may seep through.
Poach: Lower the sieve into the water. Rock the sieve back and forth a couple of times. Tip out egg; remove sieve. Let egg poach 4 minutes, turning once with a soft spatula.
Drain: Use a slotted spoon to scoop out egg. Set on a clean kitchen towel to dry, briefly. Serve at once or hold in a bowl of warm water up to 30 minutes.
Serve: Nice on a buttered English muffin half, perhaps with a strip of smoked salmon underneath and a spoonful of hollandaise on top.