The Pre-Boiling Trick Julia Child Used For Perfect Poached Eggs

One of the marks of a great chef is their ability to make a poached egg. The balancing act between the boiling water and the delicate treatment of the egg should produce a soft cloud of egg white with a perfectly runny yolk. What can go wrong? We often see the unfortunate results of failed poached eggs in cooking competitions and maybe in our own kitchens, but what if there was a way to cook a perfectly poached egg every time?

Enter culinary legend, Julia Child. Known for introducing French cooking techniques into American kitchens, there seemingly wasn't a single meal she couldn't conquer, including poached eggs. Her ability to relate to the average home cook made her a favorite in many kitchens. It's that very understanding that allowed her to share tricks to perfect recipes that required no more than what's already in the average home cook's kitchen. That's why her hack to nailing poached eggs is one that anybody can do.

Where many go wrong when poaching eggs

When attempting to perfect poached eggs, it's important to first understand where many go wrong and there are in fact, so many ways this dish can go wrong. Several things can affect the success of poached eggs including the temperature of the water, the techniques and equipment used, and the freshness of the eggs. For most, it's not possible to acquire farm fresh eggs easily. Luckily, it's possible to get around this by using Julia Child's poached eggs hack.

As noted by PBS, Child once said, "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." With seemingly so many odds against you, it's natural to be intimidated by the art of poaching eggs. Yet with this mindset and tenacity, you can move forward confidently knowing it's about to get even easier with one of Child's genius hacks that you might not expect.

Julia Child's hack for the perfect poached egg

In the first volume of her groundbreaking cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Julia Child offers a simple and effective hack that aids in achieving the perfect poached eggs. In a chapter dedicated to egg cookery, Child insists that the most important requirement for poached eggs is using fresh eggs, however, for those who don't have access to fresh eggs, she recommends simmering the eggs in their shells for eight to 10 seconds before poaching. This allows the egg white to firm up enough to allow the egg to hold its shape when cracked open and plunked into the boiling water.

Now that you know the secret, it's time to finish cooking. Child's standard poaching technique calls for filling a pan with a shallow layer of water and vinegar and allowing that to come to a simmer. Once you've dropped your egg in the water, gently swirl it to allow the egg to cook, and remove after about four minutes. Once finished, you can enjoy them with dishes like braised bacon tartine for a luxurious breakfast or with pork and chorizo hominy stew for a hearty Mexican brunch.