The 64-degree poached egg

When my PolyScience Sous Vide Professional arrived on Friday, I had to decide what to cook in it first. It ended up being an easy decision. Eggs are such a primal food, and so delicious. Also, I had them on hand, which was useful since the immersion circulator arrived more than a week earlier than I was expecting it.

Eggs cooked with an immersion circulator are not, strictly speaking, cooked sous vide, since they aren’t vacuum sealed. But they are an excellent candidate for the long-time/low-temperature approach that a circulator makes possible. Eggs consist of more than a dozen different proteins, many of which denature at different temperatures, which means you can produce several distinctly different results depending on the temperature you set the circulator to. You can see a good overview of the effects of different temperatures at Martin Lersch’s Khymos blog, and in the Cooking Issues primer.

When doing the poached eggs for my Eggs Benedict project, I used the traditional method of cracking the shells and dropping them into simmering water. While there’s always something to be said for classic technique, I think the immersion circulator approach is much, much more useful in some ways. For one thing, it means I can poach as many eggs as I want to at once, and have them all be ready at the same time. Using the traditional method, I’ve never been able to successfully poach more than 4 eggs at a time.

More than that, though, eggs cooked at a low temperature – in this case 64°C for 1 hour – have yolks that are perfectly cooked to the thickened-but-runny texture that I like. In contrast, traditional poached egg yolks have a gradient, from slightly overcooked at the edge, to (ideally, but not always) runny in the middle.

Not that there are no downsides. For one thing, it requires some advance planning, because they do take an hour to cook at this temperature, though once they’re in the bath you can forget about them until they’re done. As well, the white is not a traditional texture, and my husband wasn’t fond of the texture it did have, which is why my next run with poached eggs will be at 65 degrees.

Still, a 64-degree egg served on toast is a delight all on its own. After taking the photo above, I seasoned it with a little butter, salt and pepper, and enjoyed. I’m looking forward to making Eggs Benedict with this new tool.

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