Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poaching Needs Coaching

Jenn and Jill have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg.  They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato and Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Let me state at the beginning that I knew this would be a challenge for me.  Not only have I never poached an egg, I've never eaten a poached egg, let alone Eggs Benedict.  I think it stems from a childhood disgust of all things runny when eggs were involved.  My eggs were scrambled until dry or fried with the yolks broken - no oozy stuff for me!  Okay, so that was quite a while ago and I am only gradually moving towards more flexibility.

The challenges continued.  I decided to make the Eggs Benedict on Wednesday morning - the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when I should have been making soup.  But hey, I bought special eggs for this and if I waited, they would be stale and I'd have to get new fresh eggs.  And the recipe provided suggested it took only 20 minutes to pull the whole thing together.  Well, maybe.  Maybe if you had perfect luck and mastered the technique the first time.

The hollandaise actually looked pretty good:  silky, lush.  The instruction was to keep it in a thermos or carafe or warm bowl while preparing the poached egg.  I cleverly put it in a low (very low) oven to keep it warm.  Probably mistake number 1.

The first egg I poached sat on the bottom of the pan, so I assume the "gentle simmer" was a little too gentle.  I would have used it but when attempting to remove it from the pan, I broke the yolk.  Start over.  Meanwhile, I had put the muffin in the toaster and the ham in the frying pan and they were ready.  Acckkk!!

Reheated water with small amount of vinegar.  Had a more bubbly surface this time and put the egg in - not gently enough, but I'm not up to refinements at this point.  It seemed to be doing the right thing and when the egg white was firm, I removed it with a slotted spoon - no breakage this time.  I had put my muffin and my ham on a plate, so I gently laid the egg on top.  With a little rearrangement of the trailing ends of white, it didn't look too bad!  Then I went to get my warm hollandaise with which to crown my creation.  Curdle.  I guess my plan to keep it warm was a bit of overkill - plus, of course, it was in the oven for much longer than I had anticipated, more like 10 minutes than 3.  I added a little more butter to loosen it up (I am sure there is a way to redeem hollandaise but I didn't have time to investigate), sort of poured it on.  It actually didn't look too bad - from a distance.  So quick with the camera!

Okay.  Forget the camera.  The batteries are dead and I don't know where the extras are and Bob isn't home.  Meanwhile my creation, such as it is, will soon be inedible in addition to being only passably pretty.  I give up.  The one redeeming factor - it tasted fine.  The hollandaise was clearly not the right texture but the flavor was good.  The egg was cooked right, with lots of warm yolk to sauce up the ham and muffin.

I may do this again under less stressful conditions and using the lessons I learned from this morning.  Then again, I may not.....

Now on to Thanksgiving soup!


  1. The first time preparing a new dish is always full of surprises. hehehe I've made hollandaise before, and still my first batch ended up being a really nice bowl of scrambled eggs. :D Congrats on persevering and completing the challenge!

  2. I wanted to do this month's challenge, but just didn't get to it. But I do have the same issues with runny eggs as you, so I'm glad to know that you liked how your Eggs Benedict tasted. Too bad the hollandaise sauce curdled!