My memories of poached eggs are from when I was little and hated egg whites. I only liked the yolk, and I liked it runny. Perfection for me as a five year old was a mug full of cut up, buttered toast and a runny poached egg.
I am still convinced that the perfect proportion of yolk to white lies in the poached egg, where the distribution of the white is such that it minimizes its interference with the golden, buttery yolk. Many days I eat poached eggs on toast for breakfast, but sometimes I want something a little more mature, a little more sophisticated. Enter this meal:
1 bunch of asparagus (yay! It's asparagus season!)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs parmesan cheese (optional but delicious)
1. Heat your oven to 400ºF with the rack in the middle. Line a baking pan with foil to make clean-up easy. Trim your asparagus by bending each spear until it snaps - that way you don't get any woody bits.
2. Put your asparagus in the baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the cheese on top, if you're using it. If you're not, I'd sprinkle a bit of coarse sea salt on top.
3. Put the pan in the oven. Start a small pot of water on to boil. Poaching eggs works best if you have the water deep enough that the egg doesn't just sit on the bottom. The pot should be wide enough that you can swirl the water and eggs around with a bit of room to spare.
4. After about 12 minutes, the asparagus will be done. So before that point, after about 7 minutes and when your water is boiling, turn the pot down to medium high, swirl the water with a spoon so that it swirls in a circle, and break your eggs into this swirling, boiling water. The swirling makes sure that the whites wrap around the yolk, giving it that perfect ratio we discussed earlier.
5. Check on your asparagus. It may be done, and by done I mean roasty-toasty. You can take them out when they look fully cooked and the cheese is golden. At this point, check your eggs. I am never sure how long it takes for a poached egg to cook. I hover over the stove and lift it out after the white becomes opaque to poke it and see how it's doing. When the white is firm but before the yolk hardens, I pull it out. Remember that the egg will keep cooking for a bit after it's out of the water, so don't wait too long!
6. Arrange your asparagus on a plate and top with the eggs. Generously salt and pepper your plate and dig in! You might want to have a piece of toast standing by to mop up all that delicious yolk.
I had this for lunch, but I think it would be lovely for a quiet dinner on a weeknight, or in a smaller portion, it would work really well as a starter if you were having a fancy dinner party.