It takes about 10 minutes to poach an egg, and you can cook one egg at a time or several eggs at once.
Lightly grease a medium skillet (about 10 inches in diameter) or large saucepan. This greasing step is optional but helps keep the whites from sticking to the sides of the pan. Fill the skillet half full with water. Bring the water to boiling; reduce heat to simmering (bubbles begin to break the surface of the water).
Tip: You can add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the water if you like. This helps the eggs hold their shape.
Tip: If desired, stir 1 to 2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules into the water to add more flavor. You can also poach eggs in other hot liquids, such as broth, milk, wine, or tomato juice.
Break one cold egg into a small dish. Carefully slide the egg into the simmering water, holding the lip of the dish as close to the water as possible. Take care not to break the yolk. Repeat with up to three more cold eggs, adding them one at a time and spacing them in the skillet so each egg has an equal amount of space surrounding it (this keeps the eggs from getting stuck together).
Tip: The fresher the eggs, the better for poaching. Fresh eggs hold a more compact shape with a thicker white and centered yolk so they don't spread out so much during cooking.
Simmer the eggs, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. If desired, trim any rough edges and season with salt and pepper.
Tip: Do not let the water boil while cooking the eggs. High cooking temperatures can result in eggs with tough whites and mealy yolks.
Lightly grease the cups of an egg-poaching pan with cooking oil or shortening. Place poacher cups over the pan of boiling water (water should not touch the bottoms of the cups); reduce heat to simmering. Break an egg into a small dish. Carefully slide egg into a poacher cup. Repeat, filling each cup with an egg. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Run a knife around edges to loosen eggs. Invert poacher cups to remove eggs.
Poached eggs are best known as the star of eggs Benedict, the crowd-pleasing brunch dish consisting of an English muffin, Canadian bacon or ham, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce.
Turn poached eggs into a 20-minute sandwich dinner featuring fresh basil, cucumber, and applewood-smoked bacon.