the best - poached eggs

Sometimes the best meal is also the simplest. Take eggs for example, done right, they can be filling and absolutely satisfying. The trick is cooking them to perfection. Now, I know when it comes to eggs that everyone has their preference (Believe me, I know this! I worked the brunch shift for years at a very popular, high end restaurant in Vancouver and every single order came back with specific instructions on how they wanted their eggs done. It seems eggs are the one food that everyone has an opinion about!)

My preference is for soft poached eggs with the yolks still runny and the whites just cooked. One of my favourite ways to eat poached eggs is on top of toasted baguette with perfectly sauteed mushrooms, asparagus and a little bit of soft cheese, like Boursin.

The trick to this recipe is getting the eggs and the mushrooms cooked just right and for that we have to look no further than Julia Child.

Reading Julia Child's recipe for sauteed mushrooms was a revelation to me. Obviously, I've sauteed mushrooms numerous times in the past but never really understood why I sometimes achieved perfectly browned mushrooms and other times mushy ones. Turns out there is actually a correct way to saute mushrooms.

The trick is to use dry mushrooms, not too many and a very hot pan. What happens when you do this is that the mushrooms will absorb the fat (a combination of butter and olive oil) until the pan is dry. A few moments later, drops of fat will begin to appear on the surface of the mushrooms. It's at this point that they finally start to brown. A little salt and pepper and voila, you have perfectly sauteed mushrooms.

The exact recipe is as follows:

Julia Child's Sautéed Mushrooms

Adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking

  • Heat 2 Tb. butter and 1 Tb. oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over high heat
  • As soon as the butter foam subsides, add ½ lb. button mushrooms which have been washed, well-dried and sliced
  • Toss mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes until they absorb the fat and start to squeak
  • Continue sautéing for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms start to release the fat. They will brown rapidly at this point
  • Remove from the heat when they are light brown. Add salt and pepper to taste

When it comes to poaching eggs, I have to admit my technique is fairly rudimentary. I don't subscribe to using strainers or silicone cups or anything else but a pot of water and a splash of vinegar.

The trick is being organized. Before you even think about putting a egg into the water make sure you have the following on hand:

  • a medium-sized saucepan of water with a splash of vinegar just simmering
  • a ramekin or small bowl with the cracked eggs
  • a slotted spoon
  • a paper towel lined bowl or plate to transfer the cooked eggs to
  • all of your other ingredients assembled and standing by  (baguette toasted, mushrooms sauteed, asparagus steamed.)

Once you have all of this in place, simply slide the eggs one at a time into the simmering water. (I never put in more than 2 eggs in at a time.) Swirl the water around the eggs so that the whites stay together and form themselves around the yolk. Cook for 2-3 minutes for soft poached eggs. Remove with a slotted spoon and let dry on paper towels. If you have to cook eggs for multiple people you can simply reheat the eggs by lowering them back into the simmering water on the slotted spoon.

To finish it off, just spread the cheese on the toasted baguette, top with your perfectly sauteed mushrooms and steamed asparagus, add you exquisitely poached egg and top with some salt and pepper. A perfectly simple meal.

Now, tell me what is your favorite way to enjoy eggs?