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The Easiest Poached Eggs Ever: A Foolproof Recipe with Creamy Polenta

Few dishes exhibit the perfect balance of simplicity and sophistication, like a perfect poached egg. Use this simple hack to nail your poached eggs every time. 

Perfect poached egg on creamy polenta with sautèed kale.

A timeless classic cherished by chefs and home cooks alike, the poached egg holds a special place in gastronomic history as a symbol of culinary mastery. If you find the idea of the perfect poached egg daunting you’ll love foolproof recipe for the easiest poached eggs ever!

Easy Poached Eggs: Master the Perfect Technique

At its core, poaching is a gentle cooking method that involves immersing an egg in simmering water until the whites are set and the yolk remains runny. Achieving the perfect poached egg requires patience and a delicate touch. The key is to use fresh eggs and a 1:1 water to vinegar ratio to prevent the egg from breaking apart, resulting in a neater, more uniform shape. This method was first shared by Chef Adrienne Cheatham from Epicurious.

In addition to their culinary appeal, poached eggs also boast a range of health benefits. They are a rich source of high-quality protein, essential vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, and selenium. Poached eggs are also low in calories and carbohydrates. Plus, the gentle cooking method preserves the integrity of the egg’s nutrients, ensuring that they remain intact and bioavailable.

Tips for Poached Egg Success

Mastering the art of poaching eggs takes practice, but with a few tips and tricks, anyone can achieve poached egg perfection. 

  • For best results, use fresh eggs, as older eggs are more likely to spread, and go whispy. You can use your eggs straight from the fridge or at room temperature.
  • Crack the eggs into a small bowl or ramekin before gently sliding them into the vinegar water to prevent the yolks from breaking.
  • Use a high-acid vinegar, like apple cider, white wine or white vinegar, which will help set the outside of the egg white and tighten it up for that perfect bullet shape.
  • Don’t soak your eggs for less than 10 minutes in the vinegar water, or you’ll still run the risk of the whites running away when you cook them. If you soak your eggs for too long, they might take on a vinegar flavour. Wait for the whites to turn opaque- like a jellyfish!
  • Use simmering, not boiling water. 
  • Be gentle when scooping your eggs with a ladle from the vinegar water into the hot water.
  • Once the eggs are cooked to your desired level of doneness, carefully lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon.
  • Don’t blot your eggs on a paper towel; sometimes, the paper might stick to your eggs.

Culinary Applications

While poached eggs are perhaps most commonly associated with breakfast dishes such as eggs Benedict or avocado toast, their culinary versatility knows no bounds.

Poached eggs can elevate salads, sandwiches, and soups, adding richness and flavour to various dishes. Their velvety texture and creamy yolk make them a perfect accompaniment to everything from steamed asparagus to sautéed spinach, creating a symphony of flavours and textures with each bite

Creamy Polenta with Parmesan Cheese

Polenta is a traditional Italian dish made from coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. It has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries, particularly in the northern regions of Italy where corn is abundant. The process of making polenta involves simmering cornmeal in water or broth until it thickens into a creamy, porridge-like consistency.

The versatility of polenta lies in its ability to be served in various ways, depending on the desired texture and flavour profile. When cooked to a soft, creamy consistency, polenta can be enjoyed as a warm and comforting dish, similar to mashed potatoes or grits. It can be served as a side dish alongside meats, stews, or roasted vegetables or topped with sauces, cheeses, or sautéed mushrooms for a hearty vegetarian entrée.

Alternatively, polenta can be poured into a baking dish to set and firm up, then sliced and grilled, baked, or fried until golden and crispy. Grilled or fried polenta makes a delicious base for appetizers, such as bruschetta or crostini, or can be served as a substitute for bread or pasta in various dishes.

In this recipe, I prepare the polenta with milk for a creamier texture.

Perfect poached egg on creamy polenta with sautèed kale.

Sautéed Kale with Chili Garlic Lemon Sauce

Adding a fresh pop of colour, sautèed kale highlights the earthy flavour and hearty texture of this leafy green vegetable. With its versatility, robust flavour, and impressive nutritional profile, it is a delicious way to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet.

Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

Aglio Olio e Peperoncino, often simply referred to as Aglio Olio, is a classic Italian sauce known for its simplicity and bold flavours. Translating to “garlic, oil, and chili pepper,” it is a quintessential example of Italian cuisine’s ability to elevate humble ingredients into a dish that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

It is loved for its simplicity and versatility and never fails to impress.

Served with these easy poached eggs, sautèed kale, and creamy polenta, it brings all the flavours and textures together into a dish that tastes like more.

Perfectly Poached Eggs Everytime

See? I told you this is a foolproof recipe! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. And if you want some other ideas to add your perfect poached eggs to, try these:

Brunch Dutch Baby

Turkish Eggs With Aleppo Chilli Oil

Chicken Caesar Salad with Crispy Schnitzel and Yoghurt Dressing

Perfect poached egg on creamy polenta with sautèed kale.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the best eggs for poaching?

Choosing the best eggs for poaching is crucial for achieving the perfect result. Here are some tips to help you select the ideal eggs:

  • Freshness: Fresh eggs are essential for poaching, as they hold their shape better in the water. To determine freshness, check the expiration date on the egg carton or look for a “sell-by” date. Additionally, you can conduct a freshness test by placing the egg in a bowl of water—if it sinks and lays flat on the bottom, it’s fresh; if it stands upright or floats, it’s less fresh and may not poach as well.
  • Shell Integrity: Inspect the eggshells for cracks or imperfections. Choose eggs with intact shells to ensure a clean and smooth poaching process.
  • Size: While any size egg can be poached, larger eggs tend to have more volume, which can lead to a more visually pleasing poached egg with a larger yolk. However, smaller eggs may be easier to handle and poach more evenly. Choose the size of egg that best suits your preferences and recipe requirements.
  • Colour: The colour of the eggshell is largely determined by the breed of chicken that laid it and does not necessarily affect its quality or taste. Both brown and white eggs are suitable for poaching, so feel free to choose based on personal preference or availability.

Can I use a different type of vinegar for poaching? 

Yes! White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be substituted. However, since you will use a lot of it, white vinegar is more affordable and has a high acidity.

What if I don’t have parmesan cheese? 

You can use another hard Italian cheese like pecorino romano or asiago.

How can I reheat leftover polenta? 

Add a splash of milk and reheat gently over low heat, stirring constantly. Initially, it might seem like the polenta is splitting, but whisk, whisk, whisk, and it will turn out smooth and creamy.

What other vegetables can I use instead of kale? 

Spinach, swiss chard, or roasted vegetables like peppers or asparagus would be delicious alternatives.

 

Close-up of a perfect poached egg on creamy polenta with sautèed kale.
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Close-up of a perfect poached egg on creamy polenta with sautèed kale.

Easiest Poached Eggs


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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 portions

Description

In culinary delights, few dishes exhibit the perfect balance of simplicity and sophistication quite like the perfect poached egg.


Ingredients

Units

For the soaking liquid:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 24 eggs (either 1 or 2 eggs per person)

For the polenta

  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1 cup water (plus more as needed for texture)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (more for serving if desired)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sautèed Kale

  • Small bunch kale (roughly 100g)
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 10g parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine water and white vinegar.
  2. Gently crack the eggs into the bowl, allowing the mixture of water and vinegar to set the outside whites for easier poaching. Set aside for 10 minutes.
    For tips on selecting the best eggs, see our FAQs!
  3. Bring a pan of water to a boil. After 1Make the Polenta
  4. Make the polenta. Combine the water and milk in a saucepan and heat to a simmer.
  5. Scatter in the polenta while whisking.
  6. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes until the polenta is creamy and thick, about 10-25 mins. Add a little more water as needed during cooking to stop it catching and burning on the bottom
    Polenta differs by brand, and some will cook quicker than others. You will know its cooked when the mixture becomes thick like porridge, and when tasted the grains are soft and tender, not gritty and hard. The ideal texture is thick but yielding once spooned onto a plate. Add more water or milk as needed to achieve this texture.
  7. Prepare the Chili Garlic Lemon Sauce and Sautèed Kale. In a separate frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
  8. Add sliced chilli and garlic, sauté until fragrant but not browned.
  9. Turn off the heat, zest in the lemon, then stir in chopped parsley and set aside.
  10. Tip the herby sauce from the pan into a small bowl and set aside.
  11. Add the kale and fry until softened in the same warm pan with the residual oil.
  12. Stir about a third of the chilli garlic lemon sauce back into the kale, then season to taste and set aside.
  13. Check on the polenta. It should be thick, and when tasted, have no gritty bite to it from any uncooked polenta bits. If cooked through, stir in parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Keep warm while preparing the rest of the dish.
  14. After 10 minutes, use a ladle to scoop up one egg from the vinegar-water mixture. The vinegar will have gently set the outside.Lower the egg and any accompanying water from the ladle into the boiling water to poach. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
  15. Cook until the whites are set, and the yolks are still runny, about 3-4 minutes. Add more time if you prefer a firmer, set yolk.
  16. Divide the polenta and sauteed kale between two plates. Carefully place a poached egg on top of each serving
  17. Drizzle with the remaining chilli garlic lemon sauce. Finish with a dusting of parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Category: Eggs
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