POACHED EGGS [Oeufs Pochés]
A poached egg is one that has been dropped without its shell into a pan of barely simmering liquid and cooked for about 4 minutes until the white is set but the yolk remains liquid. A perfect specimen is neat and oval in shape, and the white completely masks the yolk. The most important requirement for poaching is that the eggs be very fresh; the yolk stands high, the white clings to it in a cohesive mass, and only a small amount of watery liquid falls away from the main body of the white. A stale egg with a relaxed and watery white is unpoachable because the white trails off in wisps in the water leaving the yolk exposed. If the eggs are not quite as fresh as you could wish, simmer them in their shells for 8 to 10 seconds before poaching. This will often firm up the white just enough so it will hold its shape around the yolk when the egg is broken into the water. And a fine solution is the oval metal perforated egg poacher, carried in most gourmet-type cookware shops. Simmer the eggs 10 seconds in their shells, as suggested; place the poachers in the simmering water, adding vinegar if you think your eggs need help, and break an egg into each poacher, time as usual, and you get a beautiful egg. A final solution is the 6-minute boiled egg, l’oeuf mollet; when you peel it, you can substitute it for poached eggs in any recipe.