Dec 16, 2010

Daring Cooks: Poached Eggs

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Guess who lost track of the days! This post was supposed to be put up two days ago, but silly me, it slipped my mind. Things have been crazy around here and I've been super-duper busy. But that's no excuse! Here's this month's Daring Cooks challenge! This month's challengewas to perfect a poached egg and include it in a dish. I've made poached eggs before, specifically for eggs benedict, so I wanted to do something new with a poached egg. I was curious what a poached egg would taste like on pasta, so I did a little research and decided to make a sort of non-traditional pasta carbonara featuring a poached egg as the topper. I LOVE poached eggs on pasta. I don't think that I can have pasta carbonara any other way now. I've been spoiled by the delicious runny yolk and there's no turning back.
This dish is very rich--this is like your weekly value of carbs, cheese, and butter in one meal. With that in mind, feel free to tone down the butter or cheese, but I believe that if you're going to eat carbonara, you might as well go all out.

Poached Egg Carbonara
adapted from epicurious
6-8 slices of bacon cut into small pieces
1 lb spaghetti
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
chopped parsley
poached egg

The first step in making carbonara is to fry up the bacon. I know that bacon is bad for you. I know that it's just chock full of unhealthy fats, but bacon needs love too. Fry and rejoice.
While the bacon is cooking, get the pasta water boiling. Add the pasta and keep an eye on it until it's done. When the bacon is done cooking, remove the bacon from the pan and pour out most, but not all, of the grease. Add the butter to the grease and let it blend together in a delicious marriage of flavor. When the pasta is ready, remove about 2 cups of the pasta water, then drain the rest. Put the pasta directly into the pan and add a healthy dose of pepper. Then add the cheese and a bit of the pasta water. Add more water as necessary to form a smooth sauce and prevent the pasta from sticking together. Heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the bacon and sprinkle parsley on top.
Now here's the most important part: poaching an egg. It's actually pretty easy to poach an egg, but it takes a bit of practice if you've never done it before. First get some water boiling and add a couple teaspoons of vinegar to the water. When the water is at a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl or ramekin, you don't want to crack the eggs directly into the water or chaos will ensue. Stir the simmering water gently to create a little whirlpool. Carefully drop the egg into the spinning water and let it sit for a bit. After it's calmed down and stopped spinning, you can gently use a spoon to unstick it from the bottom. I prefer to make poached eggs in a nonstick pan because it makes this one step easier. It generally takes about 3-4 minutes to cook a poached egg depending on how runny you want it. If you want the yolk fairly solid, it will need to cook for a while longer. When the egg is cooked to your liking, carefully remove it with a slotted spoon. Don't worry if the egg isn't perfect or if the edges are a bit ragged. If it really bothers you, you can cut off the messy edges and make it a perfect circle.
After you've got your eggs all poached up, put one on top of each bowl. This made about 4 servings, so you will most likely need 4 eggs. I like my poached eggs very runny, but my parents like them a little more solid. Cook the eggs to your liking, but I strongly recommend making them runny. The yolk spreading through all the pasta was amazing! It adds so much flavor to the already delicious pasta. Look at that yolk! It's just melting all over the pasta!

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