I love eggs. I love the variety of ways you can use them in meals.
If you've ever watched Chef Gordon Ramsey on Kitchen Nightmares, then you've probably seen him ask the chef at a struggling restaurant to make an omelet. The point being, if you can't make an omelet, you are not a chef. It takes a delicate hand to produce the simplest egg dishes. To me there is nothing worse than overcooked eggs. The simplest of egg dishes are poached eggs, and yet you rarely see them on a menu, unless a restaurant is catering to people on diets. However, on the reality shows featuring competitions between chefs, a perfectly poached egg is often seen atop a salad, a gourmet burger, or the main course.
Mostly what you see at local restaurants involving poached eggs are the Easter and Sunday brunch favorite, Eggs Benedict. Eggs Benedict is a dish that consists of two halves of an English muffin, poached eggs and a slice of ham topped off with Hollandaise sauce . . . and often accompanied with asparagus. The Hollandaise sauce takes extra work and adds more calories, so I like just a plain and simple poached egg with toast.
I grew up with my mother making poached eggs in a miniature tin that could make one poached egg at a time. The metal is slightly more rugged than paper, but they work . . . one egg at a time.
I've tried microwaving after puncturing the yolk with a toothpick, so it doesn't explode and I've also tried poaching by just cracking an egg and placing it in simmering water (thereby producing egg drop soup). Both of these methods have not produced the texture and wholesome look I desire. So, I have been on the look out for something new to help me make a perfect poached egg. My wife gave me a little rubbery cup for Father's Day a couple of years ago and it works well, if you are back to making one egg. I have greater needs.
I did an "egg poaching pan" search on Google. They run from $15 to $49. I had decided to buy one of the cheaper ones, but thought I would read the reviews first. Not good. I looked for reviews of the higher priced Demeyere Resto 4-Cup Stainless Steel Egg Poacher & Skillet. Non-existent. Either people loved it, or no one is paying fifty bucks to poach four eggs. What caught my eye, however was the mention that the basic part of the equation was a stainless steel skillet. I thought, I don't need another one of those. Several years ago I purchased a Martha Stewart Stainless Steel Frying Pan. I learned that stainless steel is only good for cooking if you have minions to scour the pans after use. My Martha Stewart pan has been in the cupboard for years. But after looking at the new poaching pans, I noticed the only poached egg innovation is that they are all simply frying pans with poached egg inserts that look like muffin tins. Aha, what if I just slipped a muffin tin into my Martha Stewart?
While shopping for powdered lemonade at the Dollar Tree I found a muffin tin for $1. One dollar is a long way from $49, so I took a chance and bought it. It looked like it would fit in my stainless steel frying pan. It did fit and would give me the option of poaching six eggs at a time.
This morning I turned a large burner on high turned the kitchen faucet on. When the water was hot I ran between a quarter and a half inch into the frying pan and set it on the burner with my fancy Martha Stewart Glass Lid.
I took the tags off my muffin tin, washed it and placed it on the counter. I then liberally used cooking spray on the two middle muffin holes, and cracked open two eggs. With the muffin tin laid out before me I seasoned my eggs first with course ground sea salt and then course ground black pepper and waited for the water to boil in the frying pan
When the water began to boil in my frying pan, I took off the glass lid and easily slid the muffin tin into the boiling water. I covered the frying pan and put bread in the toaster.
With the glass lid I could see that the eggs began cooking instantly. The cooking is done through both the boiling water underneath the muffin tin, but also from the steam produced from the boiling water and contained by the frying pan lid. I may have to experiment with timing, but I am guessing that three minutes of cooking produces a poached egg with a liquid gold center. A five minute egg will give you a McDonald's Egg McMuffin version.
For a little more exact cooking, you can take the lid off, while the eggs are cooking and touch the center of the egg, which turns white after a minute or two of cooking. Just like an experienced cook can tell the difference between a rare steak and one that is medium, you can tell how done the poached eggs are by touch as well.
When it came time to turn out the eggs, I used a small spatula that I ran around the sides of the eggs and the muffin wall. To turn out individual eggs, on different plates, I would used the spatula for each serving. For me, I ran the spatula around both eggs and placed them on the plates.
I cooked four eggs and each one lovely. Each time I cook poached eggs I think I will learn a bit more about them. For example, I love hot boiled eggs with butter, salt and pepper. I hate shelling them, however. With my new ability to easily make poached eggs I'll just poach them and the put them all into a bowl . . . add my butter . . . salt and pepper a bit more to taste and then sit back and enjoy. Or egg salad sandwiches would be a snap. And when I feel fancy and invite friends over, I might just go the Eggs Benedict route. They are a little richer and a have few more calories, but they look delicious AND taste delicious.