Astonished. I should be elated, but I’m just–is flabbergasted too strong a word? In June, chef Wylie Dufresne of New York’s WD-50 did the unthinkable and moved his latest microwave oven out to the dining room for some elegant tableside egg poaching. Only it took him 29 minutes. With some sort of fancy tinfoil shield.
Now really. I can see it’s time to step in, because 29 minutes in a microwave is like three years in a regular oven. 29 minutes to poach an egg by any other method than LA sidewalk (ours are reaching the 200-degree mark) is plain ridiculous. No matter how fabulous the chef. I’m tempted to send him the starter booklet that came with my Sharp Carousel.
Poaching eggs in a microwave doesn’t have to be such a production. You can do it in 2 or 3 minutes for a pair or even 4 soft-cooked eggs that look and taste nice. Not rubbery. Not chewy. Not raw. And not exploded. You don’t need any specially designed microware. You don’t need any toothpicks. Or vinegar. You don’t need anything other than a microwaveable soup bowl–the relatively rounded bottom is much better than the flat bottom of a mug for even heating and preventing explosions or boilover–and a microwaveable lid or saucer. You have those at home. I know you do.
Every food site from Chocolate & Zucchini to What’s Cooking America insists you need to prick the egg yolks with a fork or toothpick before nuking to prevent explosions, but that’s not actually so. All those recipes say to crack the eggs into cold water and then microwave it all at once. I’m not 100% sure, but I think that may be the key problem.
I’ve used the following method for years with no explosions and without the eggs turning to hockey pucks:
Poached Eggs in the Microwave
1. Heat a half-full soup bowl of water to a near-boil first–about 1.5 minutes on HIGH. Then crack in the eggs, let them sit a minute covered so the whites begin to film over, and then nuke again covered for 1 minute.
2. Take a big soup spoon, scoop under each egg and flip it gently in the water–the underside may appear near-raw even while the top is cooked, but once flipped it will quickly set in contact with the hot water, and you can finish by nuking 10-15 seconds more with the lid on and/or letting it sit covered for 20-30 seconds or so.
3. When the eggs are set the way you prefer, either scoop them gently out of the bowl or carefully drain the bowl with the lid and some potholders (be careful not to let the eggs slip out!) A little burgundy-and-mushroom reduction or mustard dressing (optional), a little mesclun, some toasted rosemary bread and you’ve got yourself a classy bistro dish. Bon appétit!