How to poach an egg
The most effective modernist way is to cook theegg in its shell in a temperature-controlled waterbath in the range 62–63C for 60–90 mins.
The more common methods involve cracking the egg into a pan of hot water on the stove.
There are many methods for refining this process (whirlpool, vinegar, plastic wrap, egg-poachers, etc). I’ve tried all these, but they have their limitations.
It’s the spidery egg white that is most problematic. Egg white is made up mainly of two parts, a thick and a thin. This can be seen by cracking an egg on a plate. It’s the thin part that spreads out in the pan when poaching, creating a messy and unappealing effect.
The simplest solution is to remove it. Crack the egg onto a perforated spoon, and the thin part will slide through the perforations, and the thick part remain on the spoon. It may be necessary to experiment with perforation-size.
The thin white is fine for other purposes, and will whip, cook etc as usual. It also freezes perfectly well — its a good way of accumulating egg white for your next meringue.
Then just poach what you have left.
My suggestion is to use a medium-large lidded saucepan filled with plenty of water. This is so that the water retains its heat. Bring to a boil, then either turn the heat source off, or put it on its lowest possible setting. Slip the egg into the water, and replace the lid. Leave undisturbed for 2 mins 30 sec, or according to desired doneness. This timing will give a just-set white and a warm runny yolk.