Poached Eggs on Toast

Morning/Evening everyone!! I know some of you are wondering how I’m able to keep the hours that I do…honestly, I’m not a morning person and I can’t sleep longer than 5-6 hours at night. Sure, eventually it does catch up with me and I’ll collapse before midnight, but most of the time I’m up till 2am working on either a project or research. I love how we have all this information literally at our fingertips. All we need do is type in a few keywords in the search bar and hit enter, it’s marvelous actually! And I tell people “google it” if they want to know more information, of course the way it comes out of my mouth and the original intent of those words hardly ever come out the same. A lot of the time it comes out sounding harsh and rude when really I just mean for it be an encouragement…*hears crickets*…alright, so I get frustrated when people ask me how things are done when the same information is right there waiting for anyone to harness it. I have to admit folks, I don’t know everything, what little I do know comes from searching the web. Even that I urge people to take with a grain of salt!

In my endeavor to learning more about poached eggs I came across a neat timeline about eggs (in general). It’s amazing just how far back in food history eggs go, but a reference to poached eggs wasn’t make until the timeline came to Ancient Egypt.

Horus_standing.svg  To quote the timeline, “Eggs were easily obtained and were recommended as wholesome food, being consumed hard- or soft-boiled, fried, poached, and used as a binding agent in cookery, especially in souffles and sauces…” I think it’s safe to say we take these ancient people for granted. They were more advanced than we like to give them credit for, but it doesn’t stop there!

In Medieval Europe they loved their eggs too! So much in fact that they were the second most common food item to eat back then, the first being bread. Eggs were cheap, in abundance thanks to chicken, and one of the more common ways they would eat them were roasted. However, poached eggs were eaten and were favored by medical men as being more easily digestible.

Coming forward to the early 19th century (1839 to be exact), there appears to be a recipe from book called “Kentucky Housewife”

“Place a broad stew-pan of clean water over the fire till it boils, and set it level before the fire. Break the eggs separately into a plate or saucer, to ascertain if they are good, dropping them as you examine them into the boiling water. They must not be too much crowded, and there must be plenty of water to cover them well. Having put them all into the pan in this manner, let them remain till the whites become set; then place the pan again on the fire, and cook them as hard as you desire: they probably will be sufficiently hard by the time the water begins to boil. Raise them carefully from the water with an egg-slice, trimming the edges smoothly, and lay them separately upon small buttered toasts or broiled ham, arranging them neatly in the dish; sprinkle on a very little salt and black pepper; put on each a spoonful of melted butter, and send them up warm. They are eaten at breakfast. When prepared for the dinner table, omit the toasts or ham; serve them in a small deep dish, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and pour over the same melted butter. They are sent as a side side to accompany poultry and game.” —Kentucky Housewife, Lettice Bryan, facsimile 1839 edition [Image Graphics:Paducah KY] undated recent paperback reprint (p. 227)

How posh!

In late 19th century, there is a story that is recounted about Lemuel Benedict, who the next morning suffered from a hangover in 1894 after an evening of fine dining (they say he was quite the ladies man and big tipper), there was printed in a New Yorker article giving an account of what he ordered for breakfast…

“He ordered two poached eggs, bacon, buttered toast and a pitcher of hollandaise sauce, a rich, egg-based sauce flavored with butter, lemon and vinegar. Then he built the dish that bears his name.”

Moving along the timeline to 1896, I came across a style of eggs called Philadelphia Eggs. Any time I hear the word Philadelphia I automatically think of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart.

Yep, them :)

Oops, think I startled them 😉

Alright, back to Philadelphia eggs…

“Split some fresh muffins in two, toast them to a fine color and lay them on a dish. Cut cooked chicken white meat the same size as the half muffin, lay them on top, then a poached egg over, and cover with Hollandaise sauce, made as follows: Melt a quarter of a pound of fresh butter and when quite hot add two raw egg yolks and the juice of half a lemon; whip well till it becomes creamy and consistent, then use.” —The Cook Book by “Oscar” of the Waldorf,” Oscar Tschirky [Saalfield Publishing:Chicago] 1896, 1908 (p. 588)
[NOTE: Interesting this cookbook does not offer a recipe for “Eggs Benedict” two years after the “invention” occurred. One would think the author would be proud to share.]

By 1909 poaching eggs was pretty much the norm along with boiling, steaming, scrambling, and omelets of all flavors. Through out food history people have enjoyed eggs of all kinds and yet my research wasn’t complete. I had to know just a bit more but from a different source. That is when I turned to my Dad…

I decided to “interview” my Dad and ask him what he remembered his grandmother or mother did that was Throw Back Thursday worthy.

Dad: “Egg custard, your GG always made the best egg custard every time I’d go over to their house.”

Me: “Alright, what about grandma?”

Dad: “My Mom? Does it have to be food related?”

Me: *chuckles* “No, certainly there was something that one of them did that stands out in your memory, other than the egg custard.” *I’m not an egg custard fan*

Dad: *pondering* “Both GG and Mom would make poached eggs on toast.”

Me: “That’s doable, I’ve never had them before. How did they make them?”

Dad: “You’ve never had them before?! Well, your GG would do them one of two ways: in an egg poacher or in a large pan that she’d crack the eggs into. She didn’t always make them like that unless she were making more than just two. Your grandma had a triangle shaped egg poacher that would do three eggs.”

Me: “Then that’s what we’ll do this weekend! I guess a poached egg is like eating a fried egg over medium?”

Dad: “Yeah, I can’t remember exactly how long she (GG) would cook them for.”

Saturday came…

Dad: “So, when you gonna go make me some poached eggs girl?”

Me: *putting iPod aside*”I don’t know how, maybe you could show me.”

And he did 🙂 With the camera in hand I stood to the side and documented every step.

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As he prepared everything I took a couple of pictures of our egg poacher. He then put water in the pan, not too much.

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Fire it up, on about medium.

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I was in charge of toast…that much I know I could do 😉

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Next he put four little pats of butter in each cup, he said it’s better that way though the cups are non-stick.

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And then came the loading of the cups. Ta-da!

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Four little eggs getting happy in the poacher…*whistles a lively tune*…and five minutes later they were done! What came next was nothing short of perfection!!!

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I watched as he turned out each egg onto buttered toast; topping them with a little salt and pepper, and serving them up with turkey sausage on the side. He then proceeded to show me how he likes to cut the egg and toast up. First, cut the egg in half…see, perfection!

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Cut the toast into three strips from width to width. And then into three strips again the other way. Do the same to the other egg and toast, then enjoy!

I’m sure you’re curious as to whether or not I liked them, after reading up on the various ways to eat poached eggs (Eggs Benedict being the most popular) I’ll admit I was a tad hesitant to try such a dish…I’ll just let the last picture speak for itself 🙂

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