How do you like your eggs? The best way to prepare eggs, except for raw, which brings a different set of issues to the table, is poached. Lightly cooked whites and lovely, liquid yolks retain all their nutrients, including their precious, undamaged cholesterol. British chef, Heston Blumenthal, demonstrates his method for Perfect Poached Eggs in the YouTube video below. His secret is to use very fresh eggs.
My daughter’s family has backyard chickens and they write the date on each egg to show when it was collected, so I decided to see for myself if the chef’s passion for freshness was justified.
I first tried poaching a 12-day-old egg–nope–way too old. The egg whites spread out and dissolved in the water. Next I tried a 6-day-old egg. Still no good. Only the one-day-old egg turned out perfectly, nicely rounded with the white cozied up tightly around the yolk. But how many of us are lucky enough have access to eggs still warm from the nest? Of course we can use poaching cups that float in the water or an automatic egg cooker and we can make acceptable sort-of-poached eggs, but that’s a compromise.
If your eggs are not really fresh, here is a tip on how to poach them: place the whole eggs, still in the shell, in boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds (depending on whether the eggs are cold or not). Dip them out and let drain on a towel before cracking and poaching as in the video. (You may get a similar effect by using pasteurized shell eggs, as they have slightly thickened whites.)
One other suggestion: the chef says to place an up-side-down dish in the bottom of the pan to keep the eggs from touching the hot metal. Notice that his dish has a inside rim. When I tried it with a smooth dish, the eggs slid off. It worked fine when I turned the dish right-side-up.
FYI: The term “poaching” comes from the French word for the “pocket” of egg white that forms around the yolk, according to Harold McGee, author of The Curious Cook.
Here’s a video demonstration of Heston Blumenthal’s technique for perfect poached eggs:
I started this post before I discovered that I am, and probably have always been, allergic to eggs. But apparently, none of this may be relevant much longer. Chicken eggs may soon become as rare as dinosaur eggs, thanks to a new company, called Hampton Creek Foods. They have created an egg substitute made from powdered plant compounds and they have the backing and the bucks from billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates. I suppose I should be rejoicing that I may have another alternative to use in my favorite recipes but, predictably, they want to “improve” on nature and give us yet another food-like substance, one that resembles eggs (like Crisco resembled lard and margarine resembled butter).
Josh Tetrick, founder and CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, said, “The egg of the future may not involve a chicken at all.” In fact, in the high-tech food lab at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco, the chicken-less egg substitute has already been hatched. “We’re trying to take the animal totally out of the equation.”
Their first product, a mayonnaise made of yellow peas, is already on the shelves at some Whole Foods stores. Below is a sample of what appears on their website:
Welcome to Hampton Creek.
Where doing good actually tastes good.
And it all started with…
They look out for you.
Sometimes even inspire you.
So when our founder’s lifelong best friend told him
that eggs contribute to higher cholesterol and
come from chickens crowded in small spaces,
he brought together a team
to create something that is just, well, better.
Your Heart Matters
When your heart is healthy, well, we’re happy. You’ll never find cholesterol in our products. Here’s to a long, long satisfying life.
Workin’ for the World
Chickens require massive amounts of water and feed, and oh, release large amounts of greenhouse gases into your precious air. Plants…well, don’t.
Update: even the USDA/HHS panel that produces the Dietary Guidlines for Americans now acknowledges the dietary cholesterol is not a factor in heart disease. JBB 11/29/2015
At left: Beyond Eggs’ egg-substitute product, a powder made of pulverized plant-based compounds. Right: Mother Nature’s version.
Cody Pickens/Beyond Eggs (Picture from NPR)
© 2013, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com