Since I was in the "barely congealed snot" camp for a few years, it never occurred to me to cook eggs at a precise temperature water bath at home (I like my yolk at 142F and my white at 150F). But lately, I've been coming around on them. Maybe you just need to go through a dozen eggs to gradually change the metaphor from snot to a cloud. I have recently tried making 142F eggs at home using Kenji's method. I kept them at 142F for 45 minutes using a beer cooler (a.k.a. ghetto sous-vide set up). Tapped the dull end with a spoon, carefully peeled to make an opening slightly more than an inch in diameter, and poured out the egg into a bowl. It was liquid enough to pour out, but solid enough to hold its shape.
While I was trying to decide whether the white bothered me or not, an idea occurred to me -- why don't I poach it? I brought some water to a simmer and dropped in this quivering snot/cloud egg. There was no need for vinegar, vortex, or any other trick to keep the white together. It stayed together in a perfect little oval, and 2 minutes later, I removed a perfect poached egg.
Here are some advantages over traditional poached eggs:
- Consistent perfection of shape
- Liquid yolk and solid, but tender white
- No need for vinegar (I don't like the flavor vinegar gives poached eggs)
- No need for ice bath or rinsing
- The 142F water bath can be done days in advance, minimizing the hassle the day of serving
Another idea of finishing these eggs is to turn them into eggs en cocotte (baked eggs in ramekins).
- Learn how to create a precise temperature water bath.
- Monitor the water to make sure you keep it at 142F for the whole 45 minutes.
- Carefully place the eggs in the water bath using tongs or a basket so that they don't break.
- If you are doing the water bath in advance, drain and cool the eggs, refrigerate until ready to use, then poach for 4 minutes (you need this longer poaching time since the eggs are cold).
- Keep the egg carton -- it's handy for holding the eggs while cracking.
- When cracking the eggs, pour them out into a shallow bowl before dropping them into the simmering water. It's fine to put multiple eggs in one bowl. This way you can remove any loose pieces of white and get them all into the simmering water at the same time.