Poached Eggs on a Chilli Tomato Sauce – Woolworths and MasterChef SA

image by Catherine Scott, styled by myself

As a food and wine loving community, we have been a-buzz and a-flutter since last year awaiting South Africa’s first MasterChef series – after all we have cooking and blogging friends who entered the competition and some who are contestants, and chefs from our community who are either judges, working in the background on the show or will appear in later episodes. It’s a truly proud moment for all of us.

The first in my contributions to the MasterChef themes is on Eggs. I submitted three recipes and my Rich Dark Chocolate Soufflé with Honey Almond Cream was featured on Woolworth’s Pantry page. I also encourage you to have a look and try out this easy step-by-step  Healthy Poached Eggs with a Spicy Tomato Chilli Sauce and my fantastic  all-in-one Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups too.

All images here styled by myself and shot by my talented friend Catherine Scott.

Cooking with Eggs

Most people who cook regularly (chefs and home cooks alike) will attest to the incredible nutrition contained in and the versatility of the humble egg. When the pantry and fridge are bare, a frittata or omelette made with left over veggies and herbs will feed a family. On other occasions, an egg can be dressed up as the perfect brunch- poached eggs on steamed asparagus for example or in a light-as-air soufflé for dessert. I understand that the more complicated dishes can seem daunting. The answer to perfecting these egg dishes lies in two very simple aspects. Firstly make sure you get the freshest, and best quality free range eggs and secondly practice! When you remove fear from the equation, anything can be achieved in the kitchen. Cook with confidence and the eggs will know who’s the chef.

Poaching Eggs

This recipe for Poached eggs on a thick Chilli Tomato sauce is a healthy spin on the classic Eggs Benedict (a buttery egg yolk sauce). A sprinkling of chopped chives and a squeeze of  fresh lime add a flavourful zing to this summery dish.
After trying several techniques, I find this to be the best way to poach eggs. Use fresh free range eggs and familiarise yourself with the procedure before you start. Have everything, including the slotted spoon and the bowl of ice ready, once the water starts to boil.  It really is over in under three minutes! Grill the English muffins and prepare the thick chilli tomato sauce in advance so you can plate up with ease. One egg is poached at a time, but for a crowd, you can slip the eggs back into the warm water to heat just before serving. Prepare the yolk to your liking- I find that two and a half minutes on my stove is more than sufficient for a cooked egg but runny yolk consistency. Cooking times differ according to heat of your stove plate. Have fun Chefs!

Poached Eggs on a Chilli Tomato Sauce


Makes 4 servings

4 extra large free range eggs
2 T white spirit vinegar
2 English Muffins, sliced in half and toasted
6 chives, finely chopped
½ small lime

For the sauce

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
410 g chopped, peel tomatoes
½ t sugar
1 red chilli, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking instructions


Heat a pan on medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions and fry till they just start to brown.
Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and reduce the heat.
Cook until the sauce thickens by half, stirring so that the sauce does not catch at the bottom of the pan. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and add freshly ground pepper.
Set the sauce aside.


Poaching Eggs – how to: step-by-step

L-R, TOP-BOTTOM: Simmer, add vinegar, vortex, slip egg in, turn with spoon, timer, remove, ice bath


Fill a medium saucepan halfway with cold water. Heat the pan on medium until bubbles just start to form. Turn the heat down to low. You want simmering, not boiling water.
Add the vinegar to the water. The vinegar helps the egg to stay intact.

Add ice cubes to a small bowl and keep a few pieces of paper towel nearby.
Break an egg into a small bowl (I’ve tried breaking the egg into the pan and using a bowl s really the easiest method). Have your slotted spoon ready at the side.

With a spatula in one hand, stir the water around to create a vortex in the center of the water.
Slip the egg into the vortex. It will spin and look strange with white bits flailing about. Have faith.
Use the slotted spoon to gentle move the white bits together so they reattach to the egg. Do not fuss over this too much.

Get the timer out – 2.5 minutes is sufficient, but your times may vary. Most books suggest 3 minutes for a runny yolk.

If the egg falls to the bottom of the pan, lift it gently with the slotted spoon after 30 seconds have passed.
Once the timer goes off, scoop out the egg with the slotted spoon. Place into bowl of ice to stop the cooking process. Dry gently with paper towels.

Heat up the sauce before you remove the egg from the water. Spoon over toasted English muffin halves. Top with poached egg, chopped chives and a splash of lime juice.

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