How Carrie Bradshaw Prompted me to Poach an Egg
If a fictional woman who stores clothes in her oven can poach an egg, so can I
For the better part of two decades, I have been writing about food.
I interview chefs and bartenders, review restaurants, and tell stories. In these years, I have watched chefs cook and bartenders shake and asked them for secrets and recipes I can share with my readers. And, through osmosis, I have learned a thing or two about cooking at home.
In general, I would rate myself a solid six on a home chef scale of one to 10 - I can make a good chicken soup to nurse your cold and I can whip up a fantastic white chili with clams. I have even perfected the art of the French omelet.
There was one thing, however, that I always considered well above my pay grade: poaching an egg. There’s a gigantic kitchen supply store in Philadelphia’s Italian Market called Fante’s that sells all kinds of gadgets. I purchased an egg poacher there once and it resulted in something that looked like it could star in the Aliens movie franchise and tasted like water. After ruining a few dozen eggs, I gave up, thinking that some things are best left to skilled hands. Surely poached eggs were the domain of people who had toiled at the CIA and not me.
Then, I watched Carrie Bradshaw poach an egg. In the second season of And Just Like That, Carrie tells her podcast producer (and part-time lover), Franklyn, that she always wanted to poach eggs and eat them on little toast points. He responds that “it’s never too late”. Carrie succeeds in making poached eggs with caviar, much to her friend Charlotte’s shock that she’s using her kitchen for something other than storing clothes. I chalked Carries poaching prowess off to scriptwriting and forgot about it — until I rewatched the season and decided to give it a try.
I had given that useless gadget away so I was going to have to freehand these eggs. I asked Siri “How do I poach an egg” and received a cadre of conflicting directions. I went for the scientific Occam's razor approach — the simplest answer is usually the right answer. Wouldn’t you know it? My egg poached perfectly on the first try!
I’ve been making poached eggs every single morning for breakfast since. And every morning, I am amazed at the result. I talk to the little beauties. These eggs bring me joy in their perfection.
I’ve also learned that, like Carrie, “it’s never too late” to try something. And that nothing is out of your reach — not even the perfect poached egg. So, as we end the first week of a new year, I hope you try something new. It might even be poaching an egg.
Here’s how I poach my eggs:
Boil water in a saucepan
Crack a fresh egg into a small ramekin (to check for shells). If I’m poaching more than one egg, I use separate ramekins.
Once water is boiling, put a generous splash of vinegar in the water and turn off heat. I use white wine vinegar, but you can use any light-colored vinegar. The vinegar keeps the egg’s shape together through its acidity.
If you’re cooking one egg, take a wooden spoon and swirl the water to make a vortex. That also helps the egg create its shape. If you’re cooking two eggs, just leave it be.
Gently (but quickly) drop the egg(s) into the water and immediately cover the pot with a lid.
Set a timer for four minutes and leave the eggs alone.
At the end of four minutes, gently spoon out the eggs and place on a paper towel to soak up excess water from the bath.
Place eggs on some wilted spinach or toast and garnish with some salt (I use cracked pink sea salt) and cracked pepper.
Admire your accomplishment for a few seconds before devouring them.