For every person who says it’s a cinch to poach an egg well, there are dozens of people who haven’t been able to do it at all and dozens more who use a gadget to pull it off, from old-school metal cups set in a pan to microwave numbers.
We decided to test a trio of egg poachers, relative newcomers made from paper, silicone and ceramic, to see how well they work for those who need a little help.
After boiling water in a pan for each, then lowering the water to a simmer, here’s how they poached.
Want to poach an egg sans gadget? We tried the method in Michael Ruhlman’s “Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient” (Little, Brown and Co., $40).
An egg white has a looser part and a thicker part and “the fresher the egg, the more of the thicker part of the white there will be.” His method draws on a tip from Harold (“On Food and Cooking”) McGee, who uses a slotted spoon to drain off the loose white so you get fewer flyaway bits.
This method is adapted from Ruhlman: Heat a pan of water to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small ramekin. Pour that egg through a deep slotted spoon into a second ramekin. Return the egg to the first ramekin, stir the simmering water slightly, then ease the egg into the water. Let it cook to desired doneness. (He suggests 90 seconds. When we tried the method, it took several minutes to produce an egg as firm/runny as we liked.)
Then use the slotted spoon to gently lift the egg out of the water. Be sure it’s done as you like and return to the water if it’s not. Drain the egg while in the spoon on a paper towel before serving.
PERFECT POACH BY TOVOLO
- Price: $5 for a packet of 20, tovolo.com
- What it is: A nonstick paper bag (think a pocket or pouch) that’s recyclable and biodegradable.
- How it works: Put the bag in a small glass or cup, open side up. Crack egg into the bag and place in a saucepan of simmering water. When cooked, remove bag with tongs or slotted spoon, allow to cool slightly and drain. To serve, grab the bag’s bottom seam and give it a shake and the egg slips out.
- Pros: No need for cooking fat. Easy to use. No cleanup.
- Cons: Don’t expect a picture-perfect ovoid shape. And you’ll need to replenish the supply.
EGG SILICONE POACHER BY CUISIPRO
- Price: $12 for a set of 2, cuisipro.com
- What it is: Perforated nonstick food-safe silicone cups with a metal hook for hanging on the pan plus a handle for lifting.
- How it works: Fill a pan with water to line marked on the cup. Lightly grease cups. (We used nonstick cooking spray.) Hang on side of pan of simmering water. Crack egg into a ramekin and pour into silicone cup. When the egg is cooked, remove cup from water, drain and use a spoon to gently scoop egg from the cup.
- Pros: Handles were cool enough to touch during cooking. It produced a nicely shaped egg. Dishwasher safe.
- Cons: Needed to grease the cups. Still got some flyaway shreds. A bit fussy to clean by hand.
POACHPOD CERAMIC BY FUSIONBRANDS
Price: $19.99 for a set of 2, fusionbrands.com
- What it is: Ceramic-coated stainless steel with silicone grips.
- How it works: Grease the cups, crack eggs into cups, then float in a pan of simmering water. Cover the pan and cook until done. Remove pods with slotted spoon, then loosen around the edges to remove.
- Pros: Easiest to work with. Produced the nicest looking egg. Dishwasher safe.
- Cons: Priciest.