No longer the province of greasy spoons and Sunday brunches, eggs have become a culinary obsession of late, splattered on menus in such cholesterol-spiking profusion it’s a wonder Tom Frieden hasn’t banned them yet. It’s not just the luxurious texture and low cost that appeal to chefs, or the increasing availability of ultra-fresh, heritage-breed eggs at farmers’ markets. There’s also their affinity for immersion circulators, temperature-controlled water baths that have changed the face of modern cookery, affording gadget geeks an enticing new precision and giving “slow-poached” a whole new meaning. For a poaching primer, we turn to egg lover and gadget enthusiast Wylie Dufresne, whose obsession began, as so many do, in childhood. “My mother made the best scrambled eggs, super-loose and soft,” he remembers. From there, it was a slippery slope. “Hollandaise, I would like to pour over my head and just rub all over myself. Eggs Benedict is genius. It’s eggs covered in eggs. I mean, come on, that person should be the president.”
When Dufresne opened wd-50 four years ago, he began experimenting with circulators, which have aided him in his quest for the perfect poached-egg texture. For him, that’s the elusive point at which the white is “like junket” and the yellow approximates “egg-yolk fudge.” That fudge—a state somewhere between liquid and solid, attained in a 64 degrees Celsius water bath after 55 minutes, give or take ten minutes or so—can be seen in all its vivid glory in Oeuf, Lyndsay and Patrick Mikanowski’s gorgeous new coffee-table cookbook, which features a recipe from Dufresne. And it can be tasted in Dufresne’s slow-poached egg, plated at wd-50 with a swipe of chorizo emulsion, dried black olives, and pickled beets. But despite the personal pyrotechnics, Dufresne still appreciates a good diner omelet, like the one at Joe Jr., the Third Avenue coffee shop he’s patronized since ninth grade. And though he’s more apt to scramble at home, “I think I can poach a pretty mean egg the old-fashioned way.” Below, he tells you how. If you’re intent on slow-poaching like a pro, of course, you can always invest in an immersion circulator of your own. Dufresne is partial to the “very simple, very powerful” PolyScience model No. 7306, which will run you $950 at J. B. Prince.