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Cooking For Kitchenphobes: How To Poach An Egg

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Cooking For Kitchenphobes is a series aimed to put "cooking haters" more at ease in the kitchen. We'll walk you through one basic recipe a week until you love cooking. Or else.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, poached eggs are good on everything. They’re exquisitely tender, their yolks become nature’s greatest sauce, and their farm-fresh flavor is unadulterated because they’re cooked in water instead of oil or butter. Basically, poached eggs are the best. But because they require a little more TLC than scrambled or fried eggs, many home cooks steer clear of them. But don’t listen to the haters – you don’t have to be a genius to make a poached egg.

Here’s why you need to master them: Poached eggs aren’t just for serving with toast or on top of eggs Benedict. You can put them on your ratatouille, your homemade pizza, or a juicy steak (the yolks burst into a sauce that’s like a lazy man’s bearnaise). Their velvety yolks were made for dipping asparagus spears into, and they’re the perfect accompaniment for a green salad. Just follow the instructions below, and you’ll be well on your way to poached egg zen.

[Note: Italics below indicate when we're holding your hand through the process]

How To Make Poached Eggs

1. Before you start, lay out a couple of paper towels on your countertop. And then fill a mixing bowl with cold water. You’ll need these later.

2. Bring 3 to 4 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan [one of these] and add 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar. [This will help set the whites.] [Never salt the poaching liquid; salt, unlike vinegar, will break up the white, not set it.]

3. Turn the heat on your stove down to low, until the water is just barely bubbling. [The key to making poached eggs is to cook them in a gentle environment to prevent the whites from separating.] Once you’ve achieved this, maintain this low temperature throughout the rest of the process.

4. Break cold eggs into a ramekin [or into small cups or measuring cups], one at a time. Make sure not to break the yolks.

5. With a long-handled spoon, gently stir the water in a circular motion to create a gentle whirlpool. While the water is still gently swirling, carefully add the eggs to the water, cooking no more than 2 at a time. [Slide them in, don’t plop them. Remember to be gentle!] Cook for about 3 minutes, gently nudging the eggs with a spoon to keep the whites close to the yolk.

6. When the eggs are done, the whites should be firm, and the yolks should remain liquid and covered with a thin film. Once this happens, use a large slotted spoon. If you're ready to eat them now, eat them.

7. Otherwise, remove the eggs to a bowl of cold water [this stops the cooking and removes the vinegar taste]. Bonus: Poached eggs can be stored in this cold water, in the refrigerator, overnight! [Secret: It's how restaurants do it.]

8. Place the eggs on paper towels -- they'll wait here while you poach more eggs.

9. To serve: Reheat quickly in hot [not boiling] salted water, and serve. ON EVERYTHING.

This story appears in Issue 54 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, June 21.

Stay tuned for next week's edition of Cooking For Kitchenphobes, when we'll make you an even better cook.

Previously on Cooking For Kitchenphobes
Chicken Stock
Tomato Soup
Vinaigrette

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