“Believe it or not, for many years poached eggs were just getting me every time. They were busting, or just generally not great … It was really only once I started looking after chickens that I started to get the hang of making them. I think even as a chef I’d been taught to create a vortex in the water then pop the egg into the middle, but if you’re cooking for lots of people, that’s a pain. So this new way guarantees a perfectly poached pouch of egg every time. The exciting thing is that by simply tying the egg up in cling film with a few herbs you can flavour the eggs and have confidence they’re going to cook all right. ”
- 2 knobs of butter
- 2 lemons
- olive oil
- dried chilli flakes
- 1 head of celery , plus inner yellow leaves
- a few sprigs of fresh tarragon
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 500 g asparagus , woody ends snapped off
- 8 slices of smoked salmon (roughly 240g)
- Half-fill a medium-large saucepan with water, season generously with salt and bring to the boil. Instead of putting a lid on, put a large bowl on top but don’t let it touch the water. Put the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper and the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl.
- This is going to sound cheffy, but it’s simple, so bear with me … Tear off 8 sheets of good- quality cling film, each roughly 40cm square. Get yourself 4 teacups or small bowls and rub the rims with olive oil. Place a double layer of cling film on top of each one and carefully push it in so that it snugly lines the cups. Use your finger to lightly oil the inside – this will help your egg come out easily at the end. Put a tiny pinch of salt, pepper and chilli flakes into each cup then pick the celery and tarragon leaves and divide them between the cups too – try to help these flavours to spread up the sides, if you can.
- Carefully crack the egg into the cling film, then gently push the yolk down so the egg white surrounds it (without it breaking). Bring the cling film up into a bundle, then tie it in a knot and try to squeeze the knot down so it creates a perfect pouch and seals it (imagine a goldfish in a fairground plastic bag).
- Once the water is boiling, remove the bowl (the butter should be melted now) and place your eggs in the water along with the asparagus. It takes between 5 and 6 minutes at a gentle simmer for a large egg. Place the bowl or a lid back on top and after 3 or 4 minutes remove the asparagus to the bowl of lemony butter and quickly toss.
- Meanwhile, arrange 2 pieces of smoked salmon on each plate. Pull out one of your eggs after 5 minutes and have a little feel (it should have a similar texture to fresh mozzarella). If it still seems undercooked, pop it back in for another minute or so.
- Neatly divide the asparagus between your plates. Cut off the cling film knots with a pair of scissors, peel away the rest, then carefully lift the eggs with a tablespoon and serve them right on top of your asparagus. If you‘ve done a good job, not only will you have perfect poached eggs, but the herbs and seasonings will have cooked into the egg and become one, like a stained glass window, which is really cute. Poke a knife into the egg to let the yolk run, and serve with wedges of lemon on the side.
Source: Jamie Oliver