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How to Poach an Egg

Poaching eggs is like any other high-risk pursuit: those who can, do. (Those who can't, just click on the slideshow for a quick tutorial.) But the fun doesn't stop once you've joined the able ranks. While the greatest thing about a poached egg is the simplicity (you're just simmering a shelled egg in liquid, after all), there are countless ways to enjoy eating one, and even a number of variations for cooking one.

Serving Poached Eggs

A perfectly poached egg has firm, opaque (but not rubbery) whites and a silky yolk that will run bright yellow when pierced. To achieve it, keep your poaching liquid between 140 and 150°F. (Lay-poachers, practice with a thermometer, or see the slideshow for what exactly that will look like.) The same rules apply for holding eggs—while you can store them in icy water in the fridge for a day or two after cooking, then rewarm as needed, heating them beyond this temp at any point will likely overcook them.

I can happily throw back a few with little more than a sprinkling of sea salt and a piece of grilled or toasted bread. But they're also sensational over polenta or grits, pretty much any kind of hash, salads or noodles, and sweeter breakfast fare like pancakes or waffles. Heaven on a plate: Poached eggs with fried green tomatoes, a biscuit and a few crispy slices of bacon. But I digress...

Poaching Variations

Once you've nailed the technique, get busy experimenting with other poaching liquids like red wine, stock or cream. While often the flavor will be subtle, the color of tea-poached or wine-poached eggs is something to see. You can even reduce proper poaching liquids to make a sauce, though I haven't experimented with this just yet.

Finally, to save yourself a pot and some time, you can cook the eggs directly into soups, noodle bowls, or even tomato sauce, in the case of the Israeli dish shakshuka.

Check out the slideshow for some basic poaching pointers.

About the author: "Sue Veed" is an editor at a Manhattan-based food magazine and a current culinary student who's trying to learn it all so she can cook it all. She'll take us along for the ride as she makes the journey from home cook to professional. Among things she may never master: looking natural in a chef's hat, and acting demure whenever a pork product hits the table.

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