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Poaching Eggs for 10+

Hi all,

I'm hosting 10-12 people for dinner. One of my dishes features a poached egg for each diner. I have my poaching technique down and I feel confident in my abilities, but I have a couple technical questions.

I can comfortably poach two, maybe three eggs, at once.

1. Will it be a problem that some eggs will be sitting while I finish cooking the others? The first eggs cooked may sit for 15-20 minutes before getting in front of the guest. Maybe even more depending on the answer to the next question.

2. Do I need to change the water in between poachings or is it ok that it will get very cloudy? I don't usually use vinegar in the poaching water, but if I did, do I need to re-up the vinegar if I don't change the the water?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. #1: I suggest poaching them the night in advance, chilling them in an ice bath, and then reheating in very hot water for a few seconds before serving. That way they'll all be ready all at once. You may want to test one in advance to make sure the reheated eggs aren't cooked too far for your liking. In my experience though, this method works perfect, then you have lots of time to trim the edges too.

    #2: Not sure. I assume you could get away with the water, but you may have to add more vinegar in tiny amounts.

    3 Replies
    1. re: AndrewK512

      Andrew, thanks, this is interesting. How would I store the eggs in the fridge after chilling in an ice bath? When you say to reheat in very hot water, what do you mean? Is this a simmering pot on the stove, or just a bowl of heated water? How hot should it be?

      1. re: barryg

        I've tried both leaving them in the icebath in the fridge, and leaving them by themselves in a ziploc container in the fridge, both work fine. To reheat, use a pot on the stove with the water simmering or just below simmering. Put the eggs in for around 30seconds.

        1. re: AndrewK512

          I was gonna suggest the same.

          I poach a batch of eggs every few days and leave them in a refrigerated bowl of water. The only challenge is not "cooking" them upon reheat -- tough getting the yoke warm (or just 'not cold') w/o congealing its exterior.
          Give it a shot though and practice at dinner, w/ reheat a couple hours later.

          I've always heard you should use 1 tsp vinegar for every egg, so maybe that means it loses its punch? I re-up if I've done four or so, but never seen what happens if I don't.

          I usually do three or four eggs at a time. Vinegar really helps, plus keeping it at a simmer not boil. Maybe you can just run two or three pots at once, with the eggs broken and in little dishes waiting to go (or have someone helping you break them.) With two pots, poaching three eggs each, for three to four minutes.. you could have a dozen poached in under ten min. You shold change cloudy water, so two pots spares you the waiting time on cold water.

          Depending how many days you have until this meal, maybe you can poach half a dozen one evening (single dual pot attempt), store in fridge, and reheat pairs of them for breakfast.

    2. Very simple. Poach eggs to the runny stage. remove to ice water as they are cooked. Leave in ice water until ready to serve. Have pan of simmering water on stove. When ready to serve eggs, put into simmering water. Length of time depends upon desired viscosity of yolk. You might test an egg earlier to get an idea. Drain eggs. Dry eggs with paper towel and serve. If too runny, put in microwave for a few seconds.

      1. Tritto on the poach, chill, reheat method; the only way to do larger quantities of poached eggs.

        The poaching water should be changed when it gets very cloudy. If you don't change the water, and just add more vinegar, you run the risk of having vinegar flavored eggs at some point. So change the water and add fresh vinegar. The ratio is 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 1 tsp of salt to one quart of water Since you are only poaching 10+ eggs, you may find that you don't even need to change the water for fresh.

        I poach eggs in a wide low-walled skillet that can comfortably hold 4-5 inches of water; low sides make it easier to slip the eggs into the water. Do you put the shelled egg into a small dish, teacup or saucer first before placing in the water? Don't crowd the eggs, 4 eggs fit nicely in a 9 inch pan.

        The water should simmer very gently with barely a ripple.

        For a nicely shaped poached egg, place the egg into a mason jar ring top in the water or other type of ring for baking, let the egg settle into the ring, cover the pan and shut off the water. Remove when the eggs are at degree of doneness you desire.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Thanks for the tips everyone. Dinner is on Friday so I am going to test out reheating pre-poached eggs. I have one in the fridge right now. At breakfast, I let one sit in an ice bath for 10 minutes or so. It was too cool to serve so I put it back in the water (heat off) for about 10-15 seconds and it came out hot and perfect, so I think I can pull this off.

          Buckwickgirl, I actually just crack my eggs directly (and gently) into the water and they come out fine. They aren't shaped perfectly, and some of the larger ones will have the whites run a bit, but with a bit of trimming they really look very good. I don't use vinegar or salt, although I have experimented with vinegar in the past. It might be because I use very fresh eggs, usually laid within a week of purchase, that they hold their shape well. This is in an 8" skillet filled close to the top with just barely simmering water (a handful of bubbles). I spoon a little water on top of the yolk while cooking because they can peek out a bit.

        2. There was a similar thread here recently on making Eggs Benedict for a large group, and in that thread I indicated that it was stated in the Balthazar cookbook that how they do it in the restaurant is that they poach a large number of eggs and leave them in a basin of warm water so that they stay warm without getting cooked further.

          I would not be comfortable with cooling and then reheating them for fear that they would either not get warm enough or would get overcooked.

          2 Replies
          1. re: souschef

            It actually isn't very difficult to reheat them in simmering water, takes literally 30 seconds; it's a quick in and out, that amount of time doesn't cook the egg further, it just heats it up.

            I've had the Balthzar eggs at their Soho restaurant and they were not hot, just barely lukewarm. Aside from some other possible reason or problem, I think it's fair to say that they don't reheat their eggs.

            The eggs don't need to be stored in ice water, btw.

            1. re: souschef

              I used to cook breakfast in a restaurant I worked; I could poach as many eggs at once in a full hotel pan filled with barely simmering water and a steam pan over the top; we didn't normally have a need to set them aside while others cooked because we could do alot at once. But the method most described on this thread works very well.

            2. my son does many (16) for dinner guests and puts them in a syran wrap square, tied up and dropped in simmering water like lil water balloons.

              It's mentioned in this article:
              http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/P...

              and here's another one - I like it because of the quantity you can make at once - I too would be afraid of reheating:
              http://averyfoodlydiary.wordpress.com...

              prob could use a muffin tin to get them set up.

              good luck!

              1 Reply
              1. re: lexpatti

                I've done this and it works really well, I oil the plastic wrap a bit and give a good grind of black pepper.

              2. Here's some "voice of experience" info about poaching eggs.

                The reason for adding vinegar (or lemon juice) to the water before poaching the eggs is because the acid content helps the albumen (white) of the egg stay together better than trying to poach without. If you have doubts, try it both ways and you'll find this is true. And the salt is only for flavor. Oh. And add the salt when the pan is already simmering. Adding salt to cold water and then bringing it to simmer (or boil) will extend the time it takes to reach temperature. But if you have an induction cook top/range, don't worry about it! With induction, it won't make that much time difference, if any at all.

                After you add eggs to the water in the poaching pan, wait about twenty seconds, then slide the egg to a new spot with a rubber spatula. This will prevent the eggs from "nesting' on the bottom of the pan and GREATLY reduces the risk of rupturing the egg when taking it out of the pan. This is true for both non-stick and untreated pans.

                If you're not serving the eggs immediately, then only poach until they just hold their shape well enough that you can get them out of the pan and into a bowl of cool water. The water does NOT have to be ice cold. The sole purpose for moving the eggs to cold water is to stop the cooking process and room temperature/tap temperature water will do that just fine. Keep in mind that the farther down you take the temperature of the eggs the farther up you have to bring it for serving. But if you're doing the eggs a day ahead of time, go ahead and refrigerate, then just bring them out to room temperature in plenty of time to let the chill fall away. And keep the bowl covered with plastic wrap or use a plastic bowl with lid. And the water to reheat poached eggs does not have to be simmeering if the eggs are pretty close to your desired state of doneness. Just put them in a bowl of hot water and let them rest. But do remember, the more cold eggs you add to the hot water, the more they will cool the water, so it may be useful to have a kettle of water nearby to warm the water as needed. The best goal to reheating is to bring the egg to serving temperature, not to cook it further. But to each his own.

                When poaching ahead of time, you can flavor the eggs by storing them in flavored water. You can even store them in sauces, but the sauce will add it's color to the egg whites. Well, a white sauce won't, but a tomato sauce sure will!

                And finally, be VERY VERY VERY cautious about reheating a poached egg in a microwave if you don't pierce the yolk first. There's a very high risk of explosion when you put a "natural state" egg in a microwave! Been there, done that, and it's no picnic to clean up.

                Jeez. My phone has rung off the hook while I've been writing this. I HOPE I'm not repeating things that fifty people have already said...

                1. One problem with poaching eggs for several people is -- different yolks for different folks (sorry!) Your perfectly poached egg may be my Yuck! I am very much put off by egg whites that are not fully cooked. Viscous egg whites remind me of ----.

                  So, check on the preferences of your customers and when it comes to eggs, fried or poached, and don't assume one done-ness suits all.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sharuf

                    This is a problem easily cured by microwave. Just don't overdo it.