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A Rewarding Challenge: My Personal Journey Poaching Eggs

I'm here to talk about poaching eggs. 

It all started yesterday as I repurposed the weekend's homemade italian beef recipe as a modified egg benny. And of course I was going to tweet about it because that's in my playbook. Sue me. 

What I didn't gameplan for though is that there are real life egg people on twitter that would get violently upset with my general classification of a Benedict

Nail me to a fucking cross guys.

Bunch of mean assholes if you ask me. Like here I am, minding my own goddamn business, trying to enjoy a nice brunch when the poached egg mob lights their pitchforks and comes hunting for me over simple nomenclature.  That's life, as funny as it may seem. Some get their kicks from stomping on other people's dreams/brunch categorizations. Whatever. 

You guys should know at this point though that I refuse to take criticism laying down. If you come at me for not having the right poached eggs, do you know what I do? I go poach some fucking eggs. It was time to lose my virginity. 

I started with an old hockey trip, courtesy of my good pal Jim Graziano. This is called the Saran Wrap move.  

The basis of this is controlling the yolk. It's like bumper lanes for poaching eggs and there's no shame in a nice easy effort. Naturally as Jim's recommendation, it was my first option. A safe start to the day if you will. 

First take was a little conservative. I went a full 5 minutes and didn't turn the heat down on the water. The plastic bobbed up and down like apples on Halloween at grandma & grandpa's. It was difficult to tie the plastic in a reliable knot without a twist-tie and equally intimidating to manage its entry into water. But once it settled in, cooking was a breeze. My biggest fault was leaving the egg in too long. I got some decent yolk but it was too firm. 

Ultimately I felt distracted from the plastic encasing. If I was going to score in the 9's, I needed to turn the authenticity up a notch. That meant ditching the Saran Wrap and getting more technical. 

Insert Mr. Funny Spoon

If that looks like the perfect Eggs Benedict tool, it's because it is. Simple as that. Years of improperly probing around skillets with this utensil came crashing down on me like 10,000 PSI (is that a lot?) of Irish guilt. Like the first time Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally registers in a young mathematician's brain, I was enlightened. I was ready for the next round. 

Round 2 = 3.9

My quest for a 9-point-something poached egg takes several steps back the 2nd time around. And rightfully so. This is trial by error process and my first attempt without training wheels. Sometimes you're going to fuck up and in this case that meant treating the yolk like my first born child, nervously grooming it over six minutes for a predictably wasted life. Despite my best intentions, the end result created an insulated poached egg with no room to grow. Just like shitty parenting, that's what you get for trying too hard. 

On the bright side though, it was hard to get worse from this monstrosity. Yes I was defeated but I knew my confidence meter was due for a rebound. All I needed was a quick refocus coming out of a bad 2nd round. Like anything else in life you just have to learn and move on. Six minutes is for fucking suckers in the poached egg world. 

I needed an overhaul. 

I need to shave some time. 

Round 3 = 7.3

Did you see the lava flow of egg yolk there? I don't want to get cocky but 6 minutes to 3.5 minutes was a game changer. I also started manipulating the burner power because #PoachedEggTwitter said it would make for a more controlling experience. It was my turn to jump in the driver's seat and that's exactly what I did: low and slow yielded very positive results. By far the best poached egg of the day so far with a 7.3. 

But still, the yolk had too much formation for me to call it a resounding success. There's little-to-no room for yolk solidification in the poaching process if you want to fuck heavy with poached eggs. So being honest with myself was the next step, even if it meant more recalibration. And in that respect, I think it's important to note that we're getting into nuanced delivery techniques now. It's easy to lose the first 20 pounds but what about the next 20? It was easy for me to go 3.9 to 7.3 with some fundamental shifts, but to get into the 9's would take some risk. It was time for a heat check. 

Round 4 = 6.4

As with most things in life, I completely overshot the landing with respect to my ability to do something competently. Whatever. Tomorrow's a new day but for now I suppose it should be noted that I really wanted to explore the boundaries of the relationship between Time and Poached Eggs. If 3.5 minutes was slightly too long, then I needed to calculate the x-axis on the Poached Egg Quality graph to be too early. So in round 4 it was easy to dial the timer down to 2 minutes and get vulnerable. 

End of the day I learned an important lesson: 2 minutes is not long enough to properly cook a poached egg without inviting Aunt Salmonella to brunch. I bodied this one out of respect to science & observation but generally speaking  DO NOT RECOMMEND this egg-poaching-interval. Just too much to ask of your boiling water if we're being honest. 

Fortunately, the juice was literally worth the squeeze. From there it was just running numbers. 

EPISODE IV = 9.2 (or 9.7)

It's not rocket science fellas. Heading into the bottom of the 5th it was obvious my next move needed to simply split the difference for an even 2:45. And just like Mama Bear's porridge this poached egg landed right in the sweetspot. Not too runny. Not too stiff. Right down broadway. 

Personally, I budgeted for six eggs to get into the 9's so obviously I'm delighted with my progress. Especially because just 24 hours ago I was the toast of #PoachedEggTwitter for being a complete failure & fraud. 

Well turns out all those gourmet home egg enthusiasts can suck brick because all it takes is a little resilience and the following ingredients too make a decent poached egg: 

- medium pot of boiling water (no salt) about two knuckles deep

- splash of white vinegar

- spoon (as fancy as you can get)

- egg(s)

- 2 minutes and 45 seconds

If that's feasible, then you'll bring the pot to a boil, splash the white vinegar, then swirl the water to make a vortex/whirpool in the middle of the pot. Don't over do it but get some momentum going. Crack your egg into a small cup then drop it into the middle of the pot as close as you can without burning yourself. You don't have to be John Wayne tough guy with the thing but there's also no reason to get heavy handed from above the rim. Be sensible. Immediately cut the heat to the lowest setting then start your shot clock. 

For more on the relationship between Time & Poached Egg Quality, please see Exhibit A below.

In Conclusion

Some may call this stupid. Others a waste of time. But what you can't say is that I didn't rise to the occasion when everyone doubted me. And at times like this it's easy to remember Winston Churchill: 

Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts

Pretty sure that dude absolutely murdered poached eggs and would've appreciated my grind this morning. 

Hopefully you did too on what history will remember as a very shitty day. Consider this a sincere effort to distract. 

Now go poach some eggs. 

Exhibit A: Cooking Time vs. Poached Egg Quality