I love poached eggs. These delicate packages are delicious on toast, with beans, and atop asparagus. Once I got the technique down, I started making them all the time. There are a hundred ways to poach an egg but this is the method I subscribe to and they come out perfect everytime.
1. Heat a few inches of water in a pot. The water should be very hot but not simmering or boiling. In other words, you want to see the bubbles but don't want them to break the surface.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of regular distilled white vinegar to the water. This will help tighten the egg white.
3. Break the egg into a small dish so that it will be easier for the egg to slide into the pot.
4. Swirl the water with a spatula in one hand to make a whirlpool and with the other slide the egg into the center. The whirlpool will help the egg white to wrap around the yolk, creating a neat package. You can also scoop the white onto the yolk with a spoon but be gentle. Sometimes your egg may stick to the bottom of the pan. To release it, use a plastic spatula.
5. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes for an egg with a runny yolk. If you like your eggs fully cooked, let it go for another 2-3 minutes. Scoop the egg with a slotted spoon and let the water drain.
For a visual tutorial, watch this video from the Oakland Tribune Food Editor, Jenny Slafkosky.
*she does not use the whirlpool but corrals the white with a spoon as mentioned above