Use very fresh free-range eggs at room temperature and a wide shallow pan. A frying pan is quite deep enough, a sauté pan is perfect.
Fill the pan three-quarters full with water, bring to a full rolling boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Break the eggs, one at a time, into a cup, and slide them into the simmering water, holding the cup over the egg for a few seconds to stop it from spreading too much. With a large spoon, immediately draw the white back towards, and over, the yolk to envelope.
Add more eggs, and treat in the same way. Simmer for 3 minutes, and transfer to a bowl of warm water until needed. Remove with a slotted spoon, blot with kitchen paper, and trim off any ragged edges.
Serve on hot buttered toast, use to make Eggs Benedict or Oeufs en Meurette, or combine them with a savoury soufflé, in a spectacular souffle enclosing poached eggs. You make this by spooning half the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish, arranging the poached egg or eggs on top, and covering with the remaining mixture. The souffle is then cooked in the usual way.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.