Ahhh, what could be more comforting than a breakfast of poached eggs paired with hot buttered toast? But this also makes for a tasty brunch too, or for a fanciful twist, why not rustle up that classic dish of Eggs Benedict for a delicious lunch for two – and so much easier too when using poached egg pans!
People have been poaching eggs since humans discovered fire, but there is a certain knack to poaching eggs without making them taste wet and soggy. How many times have you tried to poach eggs directly in boiling water only to have them break apart, go all stringy, and end up looking like a snowman's head having a bad hair day?
Poached egg pans are a great alternative to soggy eggs, and an extra benefit of using a poaching pan is that you can cook multiple eggs at once without them sticking together in a single congealed blob, or painstakingly having to cook them separately one at a time.
Using a poacher may seem like cheating to some hardened food connoisseurs, but they are simplicity itself to use, and the results are perfect every time. Follow our simple guide to see how easy it really is:
How to use an egg poacher pan
- Remove the lid, insert and egg cups from the pan.
- Fill the pan base with 1/2 inch of water and set over medium heat to bring the water to a simmer.
- Lightly grease the poaching cups with a little butter or oil.
- Place the cups into the insert and fit into the pan to warm the cups in the simmering water.
- Crack one fresh egg into each individual cup, cover the pan with the lid and leave to cook to your desired level of doneness.
Poaching eggs can take between 2 – 4 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. If you like a runny egg yolk, then poaching will take less time than if you prefer a set yolk.
Once your eggs are ready, remove the pan lid, lift out the egg cup holding insert, gently tip out each poached egg transferring them to individual plates to be eaten immediately.
When using poached eggs as part of a recipe, slide them from their poaching cup and place them on top of slices of hot buttered toast, or layer them up with ingredients to make such tasty dishes as Eggs Benedict, asparagus with poached eggs, or potato pancakes with smoked Salmon and poached eggs. Their perfectly round form looks pretty as well as tasting delicious!
The more traditional way to poach eggs is by dropping them into a pan of simmering hot water. What you have to remember if you are going to try this method is that your eggs must be really fresh! Older eggs tend to lose their integrity when poached, and the whites can go a little watery resulting in stringy egg whites floating around the pan.
Some people recommend adding a small dash of vinegar to the simmering water. This is supposed to help the poached eggs hold together better while cooking, but if you are going to try this, be careful not to add too much vinegar as your eggs may take on the flavour and ruin the taste of your finished recipe.
How to poach an egg in water
- Using a wide, shallow pan, fill about half full of water and set on medium heat, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. A good tip here is to make sure the hot water is barely simmering to prevent the eggs from breaking apart.
- Crack a fresh egg into a cup first, then gently slide the egg into the water.
- Simmer for around 2-3 minutes to get a semi-soft yolk, or for 3-4 minutes to get a set yolk.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently lift out the egg and drain it on a piece of paper kitchen roll.
- Repeat the above steps for each additional egg required.
When poaching eggs in water, take care to slowly tip or slide your egg into the water, egg white first before the yolk. There is less risk of the yolk breaking when you slide it into the water after the white because the egg whites are providing a cushion for the yolk to land on and settle into.
Never let the water boil violently. This will cause your egg to agitate around and be pushed apart into stringy pieces. Once you have boiled the water, turn down the heat so the water is gently bubbling at a simmer to help keep the egg together better.
Always remember to have paper kitchen roll at the ready, and drain each egg really well. No one wants a wet egg making their toast all soggy, or causing their crispy salad to wilt in a pool of poaching water.
Can you poach an egg in the microwave?
The short answer is yes! But it is always advisable to use specially made microwavable egg poaching kits if you want good results. Never try to poach an egg in the microwave without using either a proper egg poaching kit or by first cracking the egg into a microwavable bowl filled with about an inch of water. Egg yolks have a tendency to explode in the microwave, leaving you with a messy looking half-exploded egg to eat, as well as a nice little clean-up job afterwards.
To poach an egg in a microwave, fill a small microwavable bowl or cup with an inch of water. Carefully crack an egg into the water, making sure it's totally covered. Cover with a microwave-safe dish or plate and cook on high for one minute. Test to see if the egg is done - the white should be firm, but the yolk should still jiggle to indicate it's runny. If the egg needs cooking further, then return to bowl to the microwave for another 10 seconds, then test again for doneness.
Again, the same applies as for eggs poached in water, you will want to lift the egg out of the water using a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen towel before eating.
Poached Egg Pans v/s Poaching in Water
When trying to decide between poaching eggs in water or in a poaching pan, you may want to consider the following points:
- Using an egg poaching pan will give you perfectly round, dome-shaped eggs that look neat and pretty.
- Egg poaching pans minimise waste because no egg white is lost to the boiling liquid.
- You can poach multiple eggs at once – this saves a lot of time, especially when you have more than one mouth to feed.
- Egg poachers are simple and straight forward to use.
- They are easy to clean and can last for years when looked after well.
- They are inexpensive to buy.
- They look neat and attractive.
If you don't want to fuss around standing over a pan of water trying to keep your eggs from spreading around, then investing in an egg poaching pan would be a great time saver, as well as serving up perfectly poached eggs every time.