I love eggs. I really love egg yolks. They taste like nothing else on Earth, and they feel restorative and complete. They need little else than a salt and pepper dust and something to soak into–an English muffin, a near-burnt piece of toast, a latke, like I had one on this weekend out for brunch. The texture of a runny yolk, just viscous enough to be something serious, something substantial; the perfect match for crisp toast crusts. Scrambled eggs are delicious…but what a shame to just mix in that somehow primeval gold with the comparatively feeble white, the flavorless staple of the dieter. Scrambled eggs don’t do it justice. Fried eggs mask it with crispy edges and butter. Soft boiled eggs are a little too particular. The poached egg; that’s the true friend to the yolk, showcasing his talents and making him shine.
In a poached egg the white gives up its ambitions and resigns itself to its true function as yolk-envelope and becomes simply the perfect pocket. For a long time I used an egg poaching pan, which produces tight little poached pucks, nothing like the light poached eggs you find under a little Hollandaise blanket in your order of Eggs Benedict. Plus the ease of the poaching pan lends itself to forgetfulness, and too often the goodness of the yolk gets lost to overcooking, the magic hardening into a light yellow chalk.
I tried to learn how to poach an egg properly, I tried in a shallow pan, in a deep pot, in rolling water, in just-boiling water; but I always wound up with a pot full of whirling wisps of eggs and a lonesome yolk, hopelessly overcooked and lost without his jacket of whites. But. I found the trick. One little pot of water. Boil. Stir stir stir, creating a little vortex. Egg (already broken into a bowl) slips into that little vortex. Keep stirring. The spinning water holds it all together and in a couple minutes you’ve got a nice little egg, white solidified protectively around the riches inside.