Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Silicone Egg Poaching Cups

I’ve been enjoying a new “toy” that I got as a Christmas gift.

I have never been able to poach eggs in the traditional way in which you bring a sautĂ© pan of water to a simmer, use a spoon to stir a small area, then pour the egg into the swirl where (supposedly) the yolk will center and the water will “push” the whites toward the yolk. The few times I have tried this, I have ended up with strings of egg whites and underdone yolks and it has not been a pretty sight.

So, for years, I have used an egg poacher. Not a bad compromise, but the one which I have been using for the past 10 years or so isn’t a very good design and is difficult to clean. Still, I use it because it is there. Why buy something new just for convenience sake, especially when it’s such a small thing?

Well, my Mom shares my love of eggs and I was telling her a few months ago about something which I saw in a recent Williams Sonoma catalog—silicone egg poaching cups. It’s ridiculously simple—drop the cup in boiling water, crack an egg into the cup, boil. But, as I said, I have an egg poacher so I didn’t pursue it further.

On Christmas morning, as we sat around eating cranberry-pecan rolls and sipping spiced coffee, we opened our gifts to each other. After I opened one small box from Mom, I pulled the silicone egg cups out and grinned. Of course, Dad and Jack were completely confused as to what these were, and proceeded to have quite a good time between themselves guessing… one would have thought they had been in dipping into the eggnog bowl…

I have to say that I am not a fan of silicone baking pans. I have a couple and find myself reaching for my good ol’ metal ones instead. But these are a great idea. It’s so simple—shoot a little cooking spray into the cup, add an egg, lower it into a saucepan of boiling water, cover, cook until done. The silicone does not get hot, so you just lift the cups out of the water, flip onto the plate, and press a little on the bottom (if necessary) to release your perfectly poached egg. Now I cook mine until the yolk is very firm, so a different method may be necessary to release a poached egg with a runny yolk, but how difficult could it be? And these things clean so easy, too.

Mine were purchased at a kitchen store instead of through a catalog, and will probably be more readily available as time goes on. If you make poached eggs, and are flummoxed by the simmering-water-bath method, pick one or two up and give them a try!

An update to the above information:

For the past months I have used these once a week, at least, and remain quite pleased. I have discovered a few "tips" to make the process even easier:

The pot I am using above is (I think) a 3 quart. A slightly larger one would work better, as the cups are a bit difficult to get into the pot as they squish together a bit. But I'm not buying a new 4-quart just for that! Or, will I???

Keep the water level down to about 1/3 the depth of the pan. And keep the water to a simmer rather than a boil (water splashes into the cups otherwise).

I cover the pot slightly, just enough to keep the heat in, but so there is not a buildup of moisture on the lid which drips onto the eggs.

Cooking spray without a silicone in it seems to work best ("Mazola Pure", and I prefer the butter flavor, rather than "Pam"). And these eggs are so easy to unmold. Just press the underside a bit and they pop out. Seriously. Do it over a plate. :)