Egg poacher - old fashioned kind
I'm looking for an old-fashioned 4 egg-poacher, not microwave, not electric appliance, but a stovetop one that makes nice round, fairly flat poached eggs. I got one recently that was fairly good in every way except that the pan and cups were small and deep...large eggs barely fit in the cups, and they made eggs that were almost taller than they were round.
Any suggestions for commercial brands, or should I keep searching thrift stores and yard sales?
There are indivdual egg poachers available that will hold a much larger egg than the "ganged" ones. Crate & Barrel sells a shiny one and Nor-Pro lists a non-stick version. They are a few dollars a piece, four would probably fit in a 2 quart pan.
Here is an intersting five-at-once unit for a good price:
I am kind of curious why you'd want / need one of these -- I have never had problems getting a egg to poach in simmering water, as long as I have very fresh eggs at room temp and some acid in the water. I think that distilled white vinegar is too pungent and I usually will instead throw in some rice wine vinegar or crystalline citric acid. If I need a lot of eggs all once (like for Mother's day brunch) I will use a 5 quart skillet, for just 4 eggs a 2 qt pan is easier, the little "whirlpool effect" does seem to work alright, but I am not too picky about not having any wavy/thready edges -- proves it is homemade!
I bought a beautiful 4-egg poacher from www.chefscatalog.com for about 30 bucks. It appears to be an imported product, but the quality and functionality are superb - stainless steel pan with tempered glass cover. The 4 egg cups are big enough to cook jumbo sized eggs. When I was a child my mother used an aluminum egg poacher with an opague steel cover. This new version is far superior to the egg poacher my mother used.
The only egg poacher that I would ever dream of having is simply a lidded skillet. You don't need a gadget to help poach eggs; just good technique, and REALLY fresh eggs. We're talking just-under-the-chicken fresh if at all possible. As eggs age, the proteins start to denature (unwind) and that causes the feathering that you might get.
Anyway, here's how to poach an egg without a gizmo. This technique works well up to about four eggs, you might be able to push it as far as six:
Crack eggs into small bowls, 1 egg per bowl. Fill a small to medium nonstick skillet almost to the rim with water. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, bring to a boil, and then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Starting at the handle of the skillet and working clockwise, slide the eggs into the water one at a time. Put the lid on, and take the skillet completely off the burner. Let them sit for four minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon, one at a time, starting with the one next to the handle and working clockwise. If you don't like the vinegar taste, you can roll them onto paper towels before serving.
If you need to make a lot of poached eggs, there's a technique used in restaurants that I learned from Shirley Corriher:
Fill a stockpot that's at least 12 inches deep with water. Add 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt for every gallon of water. Bring it to a boil, and crack eggs one at a time into the water. When all the eggs are added, reduce heat to a simmer. When an egg floats back up, it's almost done. Pull the egg out with a slotted spoon, and touch the white near the yolk to make sure the white is cooked through. If it's not done yet, back in the pot it goes for a few seconds.
You can prepare the eggs a couple of days in advance if you want (this is especially handy if you're making them the restaurant way). Just put the cooked eggs into a bowl of ice water as soon as they are done cooking. When you're ready to eat, just put them in simmering water for about 45 seconds.
Check these at Fantes:
They will give the result you are seeking and are easy to use if you are not confident with the saucepan/whirlpool method (wich really is easier than it sounds). Only trick with these guys is dry 'em in the oven so you get all the little nooks and crannies and oil them lightly to prevent rusting. Lots of places besides Fantes have them, but I always go there because they seem to have just about every traditional kitchen implement known.
re: tim irvine
Lincoln Wearever makes a killer little egg poacher. They take their 8" fry pan and modify it with an adapter ring and four non-stick egg cups and a cover. It's their item #56507 and it's slick. Not only do you get an egg poacher but you also get one of the best 8" fry pans on the market. It's available from your local restaurant supply dealer.