Poached eggs are a simple, quick breakfast or brunch staple. They’re more healthful than fried or scrambled eggs because they are not cooked in fat. They’re versatile, too, forming the basis for such gourmet specialties as Eggs Benedict and Eggs Sardou.

Despite their seeming simplicity, poached eggs are often done incorrectly. Many cooks err in letting them poach too long. Others don’t add vinegar to the water, a necessary step that helps the whites to solidify quickly.

When poaching an egg, make sure to simmer your water; don’t boil it. The water should be between 180 and 185 degrees, no more.

Also, crack your eggs, first, into a ramekin before placing them in the boiling water. This will help prevent the yolk from breaking. Finally, you can poach eggs up to a day ahead of time if you’re using them in a brunch dish. Just make sure to keep them in an ice bath in the refrigerator, and drop them back into a pot of simmering water for 20 to 30 seconds before serving.

What you’ll need:

1 medium sauce pan or skillet

1 to 2 quarts of water (depending on the size or your pan)

3 tsps. white vinegar

4 small cups OR ramekins

4 large fresh eggs

Salt and pepper, to taste

A slotted spoon

Bowl of ice water