Overcoming one of the biggest challenges to poaching eggs—producing a tender, tidy white—started with draining the eggs in a colander. This allowed the thin, loose whites that would cook up wispy and ragged to slip away before cooking. We also cracked the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and deposited them into the water one by one to prevent them from being jostled. Salted water with vinegar helped the whites set up quickly, ensuring that the faster-cooking yolks would still be liquid by the time the whites were cooked through. Poaching the eggs in a Dutch oven filled with just 6 cups of water left plenty of headspace above the eggs so that steam fully cooked the notoriously gooey portion of the white nearest the yolk. Finally, we gently poached the eggs by bringing the water to a boil, adding the eggs, covering the pot, and letting them cook off the heat for 3 minutes. Once the cover was removed, we checked the eggs individually, removing them once the white nearest to the yolk was just set.
For the best results, be sure to use the freshest eggs possible. Cracking the eggs into a colander will rid them of any watery, loose whites and result in perfectly shaped poached eggs. This recipe can be used to cook from one to four eggs. To make two batches of eggs to serve all at once, transfer four cooked eggs directly to a large pot of 150°F water and cover them. This will keep them warm for 15 minutes or so while you return the poaching water to a boil and cook the next batch. We like to serve these eggs on buttered toast or toasted and buttered English muffins or on salads made with assertively flavored greens.
1. Bring 6 cups water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Meanwhile, crack eggs, one at a time, into colander. Let stand until loose, watery whites drain away from eggs, 20 to 30 seconds. Gently transfer eggs to 2-cup liquid measuring cup.
2. Add vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt to boiling water. With lip of measuring cup just above surface of water, gently tip eggs into water, one at a time, leaving space between them. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let stand until whites closest to yolks are just set and opaque, about 3 minutes. If after 3 minutes whites are not set, let stand in water, checking every 30 seconds, until eggs reach desired doneness. (For medium-cooked yolks, let eggs sit in pot, covered, for 4 minutes, then begin checking for doneness.)
3. Using slotted spoon, carefully lift and drain each egg over Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.