Pairing a poached egg with salad is one of the oldest culinary traditions in the world, and one that can transform a starter into a satisfying light lunch.
But the process can be harder than it looks, as the egg—and the "sauce" it creates—has to be done just right. "It’s all about chemistry," says Sebastien Archambault, executive chef at New York’s The Back Room at One57. And that means you need to poach it correctly.
For this recipe, Archambault offers his take on the classic Caesar salad, in which he swaps out traditional romaine for the more nutrient-rich kale, and adds a breaded poached egg to amp up a Caesar’s creamy but crunchy texture. "When you bread the poached egg, you have the crispiness of the bread and the creaminess of the yolk all in one," he says.
Poaching eggs is notoriously difficult—many chefs actually use thermometers to help them. But the truth is you just need a little practice.
For the Caesar dressing, mix in a blender all of the ingredients except for the grapeseed and olive oils, Parmesan cheese, and water. Liquefy until smooth, and then slowly add the oils and the water.
For the salad, mix together the Kale, lemon, and Caesar dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Split the salad between four bowls. Top each with 1 Tbsp capers, 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds, and Parmesan.
Poach eggs in 4 quarts of water (see below for Archambault’s expert poaching technique).
Once finished, drain and place on paper towels to dry. Place atop salad.
Optional step: Bread poached eggs using a mixture of equal parts all-purpose flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs. Deep-fry them in oil at 350° for 1 minute, or until the breading is nicely toasted. Remove eggs from oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place one poached egg on top of each salad.
To finish the dish, mix in Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the poached egg: Fill a small pot with water, lightly salt it, and add a cup of vinegar; heat. When it boils, drop the heat to a simmer.
Break a fresh egg into a small bowl; over the sink, pour the egg onto a slotted spoon just long enough for any extra water to drain off, then immediately pour it back into the bowl (this step eliminates flyaway strands of egg white).
Turn off the flame completely, and begin stirring the water to create a “whirlpool”; hold the egg just above the water, then slide it into the center of that vortex—this is the trick to making sure the egg holds its form.
Leave the egg alone for just over 2 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon.