I have a thing for eggs. I mean, a serious thing for eggs. I have since I was five years old and learning how to scramble them, and now that I’m something resembling a grownup and know how to poach them, I love them even more. The ease of fitting them into my budget also helps their case.
I never understood eggs getting such a bad rap. I mean yeah, there’s the cholesterol factor, so I suppose I can get that. But there are so many delicious nutrients in eggs otherwise! They’re also completely and utterly fascinating to even the amateurest of food scientists. The fats and the proteins and the structures of everything are what make different egg dishes so, well, different. Meringue is made from the non-fatty, high-proteiny whites, because… okay. I don’t know. I tend to simply marvel at the way egg whites can refuse to puff up at even the slightest hint of yolk. And on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re trying to make a hollandaise or mayo from the yolk, too much of the whites in there will seriously mess you up. It is a food at war with itself.
This is one of my favorite recipes that involves the wonder orb. I can easily make it for one, or double it if I need to. It involves poached eggs.
Poaching eggs takes some work, but the rewards are marvelous. The yolk is all runny and rich and almost cheesy, and when it mixes in with other flavors, you kind of forget that you’re putting these suckers in your protein budget. My favorite way to have a poached egg is with veggies and some sort of grain and the mother of all fancy-sounding things: balsamic reduction.
- handful of fresh green beans
- sliced cremini mushrooms
- quinoa, rice, whatever grain you like
- balsamic vinegar
All right! Start the prep of your grain of choice. I’ve done it with jasmine rice plenty of times, because that’s what I like and also kind of what I’m going to be eating for the next month and a half after I bought a huge bag from the Asian market. When I make rice, I have a tendency to put a small pat of butter in with the rice to let that flavor everything, or at least let me think I’m flavoring everything. When I don’t have butter I skip it, so whatever. Do what you like! Versatility and creativity! Or something!
Now, the veg. I sautÃ© them up in a non-reactive pan, so usually a nonstick or a pan with a decent coating. Never my precious cast iron. Because you will be putting vinegar on there. And if you put vinegar or anything acidic on cast iron, you are dead to me. Anyway! I’ll do the saute in olive oil, or butter, or a little of both. Salt it, pepper it, and then break out the balsamic. Drizzle a healthy coating all over the pan and bring the heat up a little to help it, well, reduce. Hence, the reduction.
Protip: Don’t hover over the pan. Have a fan on. What did I say about putting your face directly over it? Fine, don’t listen to me. That stinging you feel in your eyes is second only to rubbing them after cutting a hot pepper and forgetting to wash your hands. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Somewhere in the middle of all this (I am the worst at timing things in my kitchen, so if someone can tell me the ideal time for this, please let us all know), you will have put on a pot of water to simmer. Crack your egg into a bowl and when the water is at a bare simmer, not even bubbling just a little bit, but you can see those tiny bubbles on the bottom, make a gentle whirlpool with a spatula and slide the egg right in. Watch as the white starts to wrap itself around the yolk! Science!
And if you screw up, no big. Poaching eggs takes practice. My first go-round looked like really awful egg drop soup. It probably tasted that way, but I avoided proving that one way or another.
Remove the egg with a slotted spoon. The rice should be done and the vinegar will have reduced to a sticky sweet-sour glaze of awesome on the vegetables. How you plate is completely up to you. I tend to put the grain and veg side-by-side, plop the egg on top, gently cut into the egg to let the yolk run down, and then salt and pepper it lightly.