In theory, a poached egg should be a perfect oval with the yolk perfectly centered.  Easier said than done:

o            Start with fresh eggs for the best results.  The whites of fresh eggs remain firmly attached to the yolks.  As eggs age, the whites weaken, separate from the yolks and spread more easily. 

o            If an egg poaching pan is available, use it.  It’s much easier.

o            If there’s no poaching pan, heat at least 2 inches of water in a deep skillet or saucepan to a gentle simmer.

o            Add a tablespoon or so of cider or white wine vinegar to the water to help the egg hold its shape.

o            Stir the water in a circular motion to create a whirlpool in the center and slip in the egg.

o            Simmer eggs 3 minutes for soft yolks, 5 minutes for firmer yolks.  If you simmer them longer, they will be hard boiled.

o            Poached eggs can be stored in cold water in the refrigerator up to 2 days and reheated in hot water for 10 seconds just before serving.  Be sure to pat them dry with paper towels before using them.

lifted, in part, from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, The New Basics Cookbook