Saturday, October 4, 2008

Poached Egg over Wild Rice, and, How To Poach An Egg

Hiya! I made this dish on Tuesday but my sorry ass hasn't gotten around to posting it until this morning. The weather is solidly autumn now and I have made peace with it. It's always easy to make peace with summer ending when it means comfort food! Soups and stews will be heavily featured here for the next few months, I'm guessing.

Here's a lighter comfort food I made recently. It's perfect if you want a hearty dish that doesn't sit heavy in the stomach: Poached Egg over Rice. I used wild rice for my dish and used up most of a bag of pre-shredded chard I had bought at Trader Joe's--I always use way more chard than the recipe calls for because it cooks down so much. This recipe could use some more spice, too, as it is a bit plain. I ended up liberally sprinkling mine with red pepper flakes. Heat works well with this.

Before egg:

After egg and before chowing down (sorry for the dark photo):

Now, let's talk about poached eggs. I have seen many online discussions about the "best" way to poach an egg. Some use a spoon, some use a poached egg device they bought at the store, and, oh, all other methods that involve a kitchen device that keeps the egg in a perfect round shape. What is the obsession with keeping a poached egg in a round shape? It must come from the same expectation that people have about wanting only perfectly-shaped fruit. I just don't get it. No matter the shape, it tastes the same, folks!

The part about the poached egg you should be concerned with is making sure the yolk doesn't get hard. It's all in the timing and the water temperature. Making the well-timed poached egg is an art form in my family, and has been passed along from hungry parent to hungry child for at least three generations. It's fool-proof and easy as pie, too, with no spoons or poaching devices needed!

The Poached Egg
  1. Grab pan. This pan should be deep enough to hold water that will cover one egg in its entirety. That is key. Fill this pan with water--again, enough to cover one egg that is laying on the bottom.
  2. If you have it, add just a tiny sploosh of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. Vinegar helps prevent the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but regular white vinegar makes the egg taste tart. If you don't have those vinegars, no worries. Just be vigilant.
  3. Put pan on burner and crank up the heat. Now, you DON'T WANT THE WATER TO EVER REACH A BOIL. What you want is for the water to heat up until small bubbles that are forming on the bottom of the pan start to gently bubble up to the top. You don't want too many of these bubbles to form and you don't want them bubbling really fast, because then you've gotten the water too hot. Too hot = egg white cooking before the yolk cooks.
  4. Crack in your egg and do it gently. The white part will spread out and this is fine. The egg will sink to the bottom. Let it sit there for a little bit, until the white starts firming up and keeping a shape.
  5. Then take your spatula and gently gently loosen the egg from the bottom. You now want it floating. You need it floating so you can see the yolk. Why?
  6. Here's why: your poached egg will be done the very second the white part immediately surrounding the yolk stops jiggling. So, grab the pan handle and start gently jiggling the pan! Keep jiggling it, keep jiggling it, keep jiggling it.
  7. Has the white part right around the yolk stopped jiggling? Great! TAKE THE EGG OUT RIGHT NOW. Do not delay this or else your egg will have a hard yolk. You will be bereft of the yummy yolky goodness that is the hallmark of the poached egg. Remember--if you let the yolk get hard, you must eat that one. The cook always eats the screwed-up egg!
See? It's quite simple. You can have a small child gently jiggle the pan and scream out when the white egg part is firm. Kids love that job! I know I did. Happy poaching!