(as published in The World Loves Melbourne).
How do you cooked the perfect poached eggs? Ben Forehan from Bossy Boots cafe in Brighton is passionate about the cooking of poached eggs. In Melbourne itself, poached eggs are a topic of interest among the cafe frequenting community. Poached eggs are a mainstay of Melbourne brunch menus; from poached eggs on toast, to poached eggs with smashed avocado, or as part of a big breakfast with bacon and mushrooms and roast tomatoes, for example.
The World Loves Melbourne recognises that not all poached eggs are equal in quality in our cafes. It's a downer to order your brunch dish to find watery poached eggs, poached eggs over or undercooked, and a bitter aftertaste where cafes use vinegar in the cooking process. You can also tell if eggs are of a poor quality and presented in a poor way. We spoke the Ben from Bossy Boots and he gave us the following tips:
1. Use premium free range eggs!
Obvious but your poached eggs experience is dependant on the quality of the produce. We prefer fresh premium free range eggs, rather than some cafes that pre-prepare inferior quality eggs semi cooked. Bossy Boots purchases free range superior quality eggs from Central Victoria. The supplier guarantees the eggs are no more than 3 days old from the hen. Ben inspects the eggs when they are presented raw - is there strong form and is the shape of the egg stable, or does the white of the egg run everywhere in messy fashion?
2. Eggs at room temperature
Eggs can be stored in the fridge but when they are ready to be used for cooking it is ensured they are first at room temperature to preserve the properties of the eggs in the cooking process.
3. Boil in a shallow pan - not a deep pot
It is not necessary to use a deep pot of boiling water to cook poached eggs. Bossy Boots cafe uses shallow pans in the ccoking process, easy to retrieve the eggs and you can see the whole cooking process easily.
4. Let your fingers burn as you lower, not drop the eggs!
Eggs should be lowered into the boiling water in the pan, not dropped. Dropping eggs can spoil their natural shape and form. Ben has a saying that you need to feel the heat on your fingers as you slowly lower the eggs into the boiling pan, almost like placing them in the water. No dropping!
5. Don't use vinegar!
Have you ever wondered about a vinegar aftertaste from your poached eggs? Many cafes use vinegar to keep the proteins together in the cooking process. Sometimes the egg can form a "teardrop" shape, which is not natural. At Bossy Boots there's no vinegar in sight and no ugly aftertaste. Au naturale please! The French often use something with acidic properties to hold the eggs together in poaching, such as red wine. However, regarding the Bossy Boots cooking process, the only thing added is a pinch of salt (above).
6. No swirling!
The reason some cafes have deep pots is that they like to swirl the water in order to drop in the eggs, to help keep the shape. To be honest this is what The World Loves Melbourne was doing at home until we saw Ben from Bossy Boots in action. No swirling at Bossy Boots. Just lower the eggs into a shallow pan of boiling water. Ben is passionate about eggs keeping their natural shape and form.
7. No set timer
Each egg is different and should be treated as such. Bossy Boots doesn't use timers to regulate the egg cooking process. Rather each egg in the pan is monitored individually, and some eggs take longer than others.
8. Yolk to be runny!
Of course the egg yolk should be runny. There should be the "ooze" factor of delightfully oozing yolk, appearing once the casing is penetrated.
9. Take time to inspect yolk and egg white
Before serving the poached eggs to the customer the chefs at Bossy Boots inspect the eggs to make sure the whites are properly cooked and set, and the yolk also "up to scratch".
10. Keep the natural form of the egg
No teardrop shapes. Ben is passionate to keep the natural form of the egg. Ben shows us the comparison between an egg presented raw on a plate versus the egg when it has been poached. The shape and natural form should be the same (as above).
Then plate up your poached eggs on quality toasted bread, with fresh cooked tomatoes, haloumi, chives and tomato oil drizzle...
Or Corn fritters with poached eggs (image credit: Lisa Eats World)...
Or Dukkah eggs (image credit: Brunch Addict)...
We had some fun in the kitchen...
Another fallacy is this, that only poached eggs have the runny yolks. Many chefs prefer fried eggs, and even with fried eggs, the yolk should be soft and runny. Many cafes overcook the fried eggs so the yolk is hard. So if you're thinking "I want poached eggs because I want t runny yolk", then also demand a runny yolk of your fried eggs.
Then of course there's scrambled eggs, but that's another story...