Julia Child's 10-Second Tip for Perfect Poached Eggs Is a Game-Changer

Say goodbye to wispy whites.

There are plenty of poached egg tips and tricks floating around on the internet. Ree Drummond is all about the tornado method—stirring her pot of gently boiling water before dropping in the egg—for keeping the egg white all nice and coherent. The good folks at Trader Joe's like to strain out the liquid part of the egg white before poaching for a cleaner look. Ina Garten ditches the pot of boiling water altogether for a sauté pan method that's perfect for poaching multiple eggs at a time.

Julia Child's method, however, is so smart and outside of the box, I don't know why I've been trying to poach eggs any other way. She describes it right at the start of the eggs chapter of her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, where she also notes that rosé pairs well with most egg dishes—we'll drink to that.

The way Child finishes off her eggs is very similar to methods described above: she pours 1 or 2 inches of water into a skillet with a splash of vinegar and simmers the eggs until the white is set. But her very first step—at least if Child isn't using fresh eggs—is to boil the eggs in their shells for 10 seconds before poaching.

A portrait of Julia child next to Breakfast Salad with Smoked Salmon & Poached Eggs
Eva Kolenko, Getty Images / Rick Friedman

That brief boiling period helps the thin egg white hold its shape around the yolk, so you end up with picture-perfect poached eggs that would look stunning on a breakfast salad or bring a little richness to an asparagus salad. Child also recommends placing your eggs into cold water after poaching to wash off that vinegar taste and keep them from cooking any further. (Or you could just set them on a clean dish towel, if you're looking to cut down on dirty dishes.)

If you keep your eggs in a very chilly refrigerator, you might find that you need to extend the initial boiling period. (Ten seconds was basically just enough time to take the chill off of my test egg.) But once your egg has a slightly set white, it's hard to imagine a less stressful egg-poaching experience.

Child follows up her poaching instructions with good news for those who still aren't sure that they can master the egg preparation—a peeled six-minute boiled egg "can substitute for poached eggs in any recipe." Just make sure you up that time to seven minutes if you're a fan of using jumbo-size eggs.

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