I finally caved in and bought a pair of stainless steel egg poachers, for 3€ each.
When even the best advice and tips don’t help and your poached eggs are ugly ducklings everytime, you can either settle for a life without home-poached eggs (too terrible to contemplate), or humbly admit to your own failings, and resort to the tool that some genius designed — probably because s/he was missing that same gene.
We tested the poachers the other night, bringing water to a boil in a large saucepan, breaking fresh eggs inside the buttered hollows, and lowering them carefully into the water. We left them in for three minutes, shuffling anxiously around, worrying about the hovering white filaments, relieved when they eventually disappeared. We lifted the poachers out by their convenient tails, drained the eggs on paper towels, and served them on warm slices of garlic-rubbed toasted bread.
The result? A slightly unnatural shape (a sharp half-oval with tiny spots from the holes in the cups), but a perfect consistency. Not to mention, the poachers look like cute little rodents that work as fuzzy inverted mirrors, should you feel like practising goofy faces while you wait for the water to boil. And just how many kitchen utensils will do that for you?