Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shortcut Gourmet: Microwave poached eggs

I really like poached eggs.  I like the soft consistency.  I like how quickly they make dinner.  I like that they're pretty and people are usually impressed with them.  And I like that you don't need any added fat to cook them (although, give me an egg fried over-easy in butter any day).

The one downside to poached eggs?  They're kind of difficult to make on the stove.  I've seen tons and tons of questions and tutorials on other blogs about how to do it, so obviously I'm not the only one who thinks so.

I tried once to poach an egg on the stove by boiling water and dropping the egg in.  Clearly, I hadn't done my research.  The bubbles in the water broke the egg apart and I ended up with yellow and white egg bits floating in gross milky liquid.

I have since researched how to properly poach an egg on the stove.  I have the expert advice of the Julia Child on my bookshelf, and I've run across many promising-looking internet tutorials.  I was also recently gifted an egg-poaching pan insert by Linn's mother.

But I haven't tried any of these methods yet.  Why?  Because I have an easier way.

I poach my eggs in the microwave.

At one point in my life I had a little plastic tray with a space for two eggs for microwave poaching.  But, like most kitchen gadgets, it really wasn't necessary.  Now I just use a bowl covered with a plate and the whole process takes about five minutes.

How to poach an egg in the microwave:

Start by filling a small bowl with cool water, about half-way.  You want it to just cover the egg.

Crack an egg into the water.  If you put the egg in the bowl before the water, pouring the water in will break the egg apart (I learned that the hard way).

Poke a small hole in the yolk with a knife or toothpick.  You want it to be small, or the yolk will bleed out into the water.

Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the microwave.  Cook on high for 1 minute.

Lift the plate to let steam out and check the egg.  It probably won't be cooked yet.

Continue cooking in 30-second increments until the egg white is, well, white.  Every 30 seconds lift the plate to release steam (I have developed this method by trial and error and learning the hard way--see below).  Cooking times differ when I do this, but it usually takes about 2 minutes total for the egg to cook.  I like my eggs pretty runny, so cook a little longer for a harder egg.

Microwave egg poaching disclaimer and tips:  I am sharing this not to scare you, but to give you a step-up on the tricks I have learned the hard way!

Occasionally the eggs explode when they're cooking.  I've only had this happen a few of times, and it's never resulted in injury--just in a loud noise and inconvenient water and egg bits all over the microwave.

When this has happened, it has always been for one of two reasons:

1.  I let the egg cook for longer than 30 seconds (after the initial one minute).  So seriously, stop it every 30 seconds to let the steam out.  You usually only have to do this once or twice since the egg will cook really fast!

2. I cooked a second egg and didn't use new water.  I have learned that if you use the hot water from the first egg, it usually gets too hot too fast and explodes.

I hope this doesn't turn you off from poaching your eggs in the microwave--it's really fast and easy, I promise!


Ben Masters said...

This is brilliant and will be tried out this weekend. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

looks great! and yummy!

Margaret at Gardening Matters said...

Cool! I actually have been trying to figure out a fool-proof way to poach an egg and scoured the web a while ago without much luck. I'll try this!