There is no foolproof method for perfect, teardrop-shape poached eggs every time. But life is all about playing the numbers, and here's how to stack them in your favor.
Crack each egg into its own teacup, ramekin, or small bowl.
Fill a heavy, wide pot with water – 2 quarts for every 4 eggs. Bring to a full boil, salt the water generously, and ignore everything you've heard about adding vinegar. The theory is that the acid helps bind the proteins, keeping the whites together. But all it seems to do is make your eggs a little sour.
Turn the heat to low. Dip each cup into the water, and slide the egg out. Keep the eggs from sitting on top of one another. (Gently nudge them with a spoon if you need to.) Turn off the heat and cover. Use a slotted spoon to take out the eggs 3 minutes later for warm, runny yolks.
Poached eggs for breakfast is great, but what makes them really awesome is how they double as a rich pouch of sauce. Break one over a seared steak to release an oozing slick of golden yolk. Add one to a salad along with crisp bacon. Or drop one onto a dish of pasta with butter, cheese, and sautéed greens for a serious meal.