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Feb 15, 2009 07:24 AM

Cooking a Whole Egg-in-Shell in a Toaster Oven?

Last night MrLit and I hit the newest Barbara Lynch restaurant in Boston (Sportello). Thanks to the very open kitchen, we could see every moment of food prep. There was a broccoli soup with a farm egg on the menu, and we noticed that the egg was prepared by placing it, still in the shell, in the salamander broiler. The top of the salamander was left pretty high above the egg, and I had a hard time tracking how long it was left in there -- maybe 5 minutes? When cracked open, it had the look of a perfectly poached egg.

Ok, so now MrLit is obsessed with trying this at home in our toaster oven. Here are the things I worry about: the heat of the toaster oven being more intense than the salamander (since the top level of the salamander was set so high above the egg) and maybe exploding the egg. Also, what setting on the toaster oven would you try: bake? Or toast/broil? How long to leave it in there?

Given that this experiment is surely going to happen chez-Lit in the near future, what pointers do you have? I'd like to try to minimize the damage...

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  1. Never having tried it, I too am intrigued with the idea. So here's what I'm going to do.
    I will bring an egg to room temperature and pierce the shell (pin hole) before placing it as low as possible in a cold toaster oven (in a suitable container) and light the broiler on high (mine has a high and low setting). I will wait five minutes and see what I have inside the shell. I'll have a pan of boiling water at hand so that, if the egg is not properly cooked, I can drop it in the water and poach it - that'll leave something for me to suffer through for breakfast the next day. I always eat my mistakes; never throw it away if I can possibly use it - it's a long valued discipline.

    1. I'd probably have to agree with todao on how to. I wouldn't do it myself, as boiling would be faster.

      Please don't let MrLit put it in the microwave as an experiment, as it will make for a horrible mess.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caralien

        My father tried the egg in shell in microwave trick once.

        Not all experiments succeed.

        1. re: Louise

          Been there; but just to witness. It ain't pretty is it. Even venting the egg shell is inadequate. I suspect it's because the rise in temperature in the microwave is so rapid that the expansion of the egg's mass, along with the steam created inside the shell that can't escape quickly enough through the vent, simply overwhelm the "container" causing it to explode (literally) and deposit it's contents all over the kitchen. I've even witnessed the release of pressure blow the microwave oven door open. It's really ugly ...

          1. re: Louise

            On the contrary, the experiment was a success, in that he reached a conclusion that is repeatable and understandable. The result, however, was not the one that was expected!

        2. Ok: reporting back.

          5 minutes in the toaster oven on the toast/broil setting turned out an egg where the first 1/4 inch of egg white was set, but everything else inside that was raw.
          10 minutes at the same setting gave us something akin to a hard boiled egg.

          I suspect the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.

          I did, for the love of everything holy, manage to at least get him to place the egg on some tin foil so if it leaked everywhere we wouldn't have egg-covered heating elements. For the record, neither egg leaked.

          6 Replies
          1. re: litchick

            I'm ready to grab the baton for the second leg.......will see what 7 minutes achieves but first some questions: Did he start the egg cold or at room temp? Did he preheat the toaster oven? Was the egg cracked promptly upon removal from the oven, or shocked in cold water to stop cooking, or allowed to cool enough for easy handling?

            1. re: greygarious

              Answers: egg was cold from fridge for both of MrLit's experiments. No preheating. Cracked immediately, no cold shock. Well, perhaps not immediately -- a few minutes maybe, so it was cooler to the touch.

              1. re: greygarious

                Here is my report:
                I have a Black&Decker TO. The rack is about 4" below the top element and a bit closer to the bottom one. I fashioned a lipped tray, 2" wide and the length of the TO, out of tin foil and put 2 large eggs, right from the fridge, upon it. This went into the back of the TO and my English muffin halves in front. I set it to broil and the timer to 7 min.
                Not until the time was nearly up did I realize that the bottom element wasn't on. Both elements heat on "bake" and "toast"; I don't think I've ever use it just to broil. So my EM wasn't done, and the lower half of the eggs hadn't gotten direct heat. I flipped the halves and let it go through one toast cycle (it always takes 2 to do an EM anyway). I then removed everything. I noticed that the topmost part of the white eggshells had started to turn a teeny bit golden. I cracked the first one just a couple of minutes later, as soon as the muffin was buttered and jammed. SUCCESS!!! The egg was an almost perfect "soft-boiled" egg. The yolk was thickly runny, the white that was on the side facing up was firm but not tough. The only down side was the down side: that part of the white, which only got direct heat during the final minute on "toast", was still runny. By the time I got to the second egg, the residual heat had firmed the yolk just a little more than the first egg, and the "down" side of the white was almost firm.

                Next time I will set it on the highest heat for "bake" for 7 minutes. I do like this approach. Timing a soft-boiled egg requires paying attention, and I have the best results if I've first taken the time to warm the egg in a bowl of hot tap water before bringing a pot of water to the boil. This is simpler, and I like being able to use the same electrical energy for the toast. The tin foil was unnecessary but I'd continue to use it in case an egg with an unseen crack would leak under these conditions.

              2. re: litchick

                Wouldn't boiling on the stove be faster?

                1. re: Caralien

                  Can you bring a pot of water to a boil in 4 minutes, before putting in the pre-warmed egg for another 3-4? Not on my stove, and I prefer using the same electical power to simultaneously make toast and eggs. No waste of hot water either.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I use a small 2C steel container, filled with cold water and up to 3 eggs; it does boil within 3 minutes--gas stoves are amazing!

              3. Do you know for a fact that the egg was raw when placed in the salamander? Perhaps it had been pre-boiled a short time, shocked in cold water, and then merely reheated in the toaster oven. Less likely to explode that way, as well.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Channa

                  Hmm, an interesting question. Maybe it was precooked? Dunno!

                  1. re: litchick

                    FWIW, I learned that salamanders reach about 1850˚F (!)

                    I don't see how the chef can accurately cook eggs from raw at that temp. I still favour the parboiled egg scenario. However it's done, it's a fun idea.

                2. I was reading an old Irish cookbook by Monica Sheridan, probably from the 50's-60's. In her chapter on eggs she recalled piercing a hole in the end of a raw egg to let out gasses, and then roasting them in the ashes in the fireplace. Maybe piercing the egg before roasting might help.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Candy

                    Unnecessary - see my post from earlier today.