The poached egg-- An ever elusive attempt at perfection. How often I have tried to make it right and failed miserably. Somehow the cards were stacked differently today: the albumen (egg white) stayed close, holding a soft transparent blanket to the precious yolk. Is perfection due to the excitement of hauling a hefty load of clay to the studio for a firing? The realization that the avocado to accompany this meal has ripened to perfection? Or, that I found a splendidly tasty use for my leftover mashed potatoes? Most probably it is that my newest trick is a success.
At most any restaurant that I attend breakfast or brunch, my order is poached eggs. Hollandaise on the side, I prefer to sop up the natural syrup of the yolk with a hearty slice of bread or English muffin. Funny that D never makes comment since come dinner when I so often want to order mussels upon mussels (when eating out), it is suggested I try something new; aren’t I tired of mussels? No, is it wrong to seek out an ideal?
But in the egg it is that soft outer and ever-so-delicate center that I love. The tight rope walk to crack the shell without breaking and serve it forth with a perfect nucleus. It is after all, extremely difficult to cook eggs—any egg for that matter.
Don’t believe me? How often have you had good scrambled eggs? I mean good. Yes, of course some like theirs more or less dry than others, but the perfect scramble should be moist, fluffy and full-bodied. Over low heat, M.F.K. Fisher notes the process should take about thirty minutes, no less or the egg has lost flavor. With little time even for a hot breakfast, who can spend all that time waiting on eggs? Now, I think that this time can be cut back slightly, but low (heat) and slow (cooking) should be the motto for almost any egg cooking approach—with the poached an exception.
This meal provided a pleasant taste-texture combination. The potato pancake was crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside. Complementing that, the perfect poached egg was a delectable runny river of goodness. Add to that a vine-ripe tomato, an exceptional avocado, and a sprig of sage for zing, there is no better way to start the day.
MASHED POTATO PANCAKE POACH
Makes: 2 servings. Active Time= 15 minutes.
The Mashed Potato Pancake
* 2 heaping spoonfuls of leftover mashed potatoes (mine had mushrooms inside, they can also be plain)
* 1 egg
* 1 Tbl butter or vegetable oil
1) Combine egg with mashed potatoes and mix well. Warm a skillet on medium and melt the butter/ warm the oil.
2) When skillet is ready, create two patties with the potato mixture and set them on the skillet. To create a nice crust, the pancakes should cook 6-8 minutes each side. While cooking, poach the eggs (below).
The Perfectly Poached Egg
* 2 eggs
* 2 Tbl vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar, but any kind is fine as you will not taste it in the end) **
1) In a saucepot over the stovetop, bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil (water should come up on the sides at least 2 inches in the pot). Add vinegar.
2) Crack each egg separately in a small bowl or mug. When water is at a rapid boil, with the mug resting close to the water, slowly slip the eggs, one at a time, into the boiling water.
3) Turn heat down immediately to low. Cook 3 minutes.
4) Remove with a slotted spoon and place over finished mashed potato pancake
** The vinegar helps to bind the albumen of the egg