Tag: Cooking

Easy chicken mole 

Easy chicken mole 

Chicken mole has a huge number of variations both by chef and by region. It apparently is not strictly Mexican but has Spanish influences as well, and a lot of legends about how mole sauce came about. It amounts to chicken served in a rich, fruity sauce that is mildly hot.

Most mole sauces involve hot peppers and many involve chocolate, not as a sweetener but to make a dark, smooth sauce. Some recipes use unsweetened chocolate and some use semi-sweet. The classic mole frequently uses pasilla chili peppers, which are available dried, but in our local grocers not at all. You can order them online, or you can do as we did, and grow your own. You eventually get dark brown peppers that are somewhat hot, but also have a fruity flavor ideal for this dish. As they turn from green to brown, they get a bit wrinkled: pasilla translates from Spanish as “little raisin.” We ordered ours from Burpee. They have a fairly long growing season, so you want to plant them as early as you can. We planted ours in May, but did not pick them until October.

Pasilla peppers are also somewhat vague in definition, as some writers described them as a small, dark chili negro and others as a dried poblano or ancho pepper. In our recipe, we used saws made specifically for cutting meat, but you can also use fresh dark, green glossy ancho peppers with some added jalapeno peppers to increase the heat. Dried poblano peppers would also work and are probably hotter. We found the fresh poblano peppers all too mild, which is why we added the jalapenos when we didn’t have pasillas available.

This recipe is adapted from the excellent new Weight Watchers cookbook Turn Up the Flavor, and should be relatively low calorie. The recipe recommends that you serve the chicken on brown rice.

  • 3 dried or fresh pasilla peppers or 1 poblano and 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
  • 2-3 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley
  1. If you are using dried peppers, brown them briefly, and then soak in boiling water for 20 minutes and then drain. If you are using fresh peppers, split them and remove most of the seeds. Then cut them into pieces and sauté until soft.
  2. Put the peppers in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the chicken stock and puree. Set aside.
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the olive oil for 4 minutes on each side. They do not need to be fully cooked yet. Set the chicken aside on a plate.

3. Put the remaining oil in the pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft and add the diced tomatoes. Add the cumin, oregano and cinnamon and cook until fragrant. Put the mixture in the blender with the remaining cup of chicken stock and puree until smooth.

4. Put the two blended sauces back into the pan and cook with stirring until thickened.

5. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. We weighed out 1 oz of semisweet chocolate chips: they are a bit less than 1/4 cup. You can add as much as 1/4 cup of chocolate just as easily.

6. Return the chicken to the pot and cook, covered until the chicken is cooked through, perhaps 10 minutes longer.

Serve over rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley if you are allergic to coriander/cilantro (as many are.)

Decorate each plate with small dots of chutney.

Beef Bourguignon in a Instant Pot

Beef Bourguignon in a Instant Pot

A really good Beef Bourguignon can be an extraordinary meal. However, in its conventional form, it takes a great deal of time and effort. We adapted Craig Claiborne’s classic recipe for the Instant Pot and made the dish in about an hour, mostly unattended. It is warm, steamy, flavorful and comforting on a cold evening and it is so much easier than the “old” way that you are likely to want to make it often.

In fact, while there are many excellent uses for the Instant Pot, this one is far and away the best reason to own one. You just can’t make as good a Beef Bourguignon any other way. The results are really superb.

Since we typically serve stews like this on rice (you could use noodles if you prefer), we made the rice in the Instant Pot while we were browning the meat and vegetables, and then we kept the rice warm in a covered dish in a warm place while we cooked the stew. This worked out very well.

Now, it is certainly possible to brown the meat and the vegetables in the Instant Pot, but the sautéing space is limited and you would have to do it in several batches. And we are not big on flaming brandy inside our Instant Pot anyway.

We elected to do the initial browning on the stove in s conventional frying pan and then add the ingredients to the pot. While Claiborne’s recipe is for 5 lb of stew beef, we used only a quarter of that amount in making a dinner for two. You can scale it back up for larger crowds if you want to. And, since the Instant Pot loses essentially no water during cooking, we used only the cup of wine, and did not add the water mentioned in the original recipe.

  • 1 cup rice (or ½ package egg noodles)
  • 1 ¼ lb stew beef (chuck) cut into large cubes
  • Flour
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/8 cup brandy, warmed  (about 2 Tb)
  • 3 strips bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • ½ leek, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup red wine (Burgundy)
  • 12 small, whole(pearl) onions
  • Sugar
  • ½ lb sliced mushrooms
  1. Cook the rice in the Instant Pot while you prepare the vegetables and meat. If you are using noodles, you can make them while the stew is cooking.

2. Sauté the onions, leeks, carrots, half the chopped parsley and garlic with the bacon in the butter and oil and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Shake the beef in a paper bag with the flour, coating the beef on all sides. Shake off the excess in a colander, season with salt and pepper and sauté the beef in butter and oil until browned on all sides.

4. Pour the warmed brandy over the beef and ignite it to burn off the alcohol.

5. Add the beef, vegetables, thyme and bay leaf to the Instant Pot. Add the red wine, so it comes up part way on the beef. For a full 5 lb recipe, you would use a whole 750 ml bottle of wine. Close the pot and press the Stew button, to cook for 35 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms and pearl onions in butter and oil until slightly browned. Add a dash of sugar to enhance the browning.

7. When the cooking time has finished, release the pressure, remove the lid, and stir in the mushrooms and onions. The stew should be rich and thick. If it seems a little thin, blend 1Tb flour with 1 Tb butter and slowly mix it into the boiling stew. We found this easier to do on the stove, as it heats more quickly and is easier to stir the butter-flour mixture (beurre manie).

stew-in-pan8. Garnish with more chopped parsley and serve. You’ll have an amazingly delicious Beef Bourguignon in about an hour!

Having trouble closing the lid tight on your Instant Pot? See our simple video.

Outrageous Halloween cake with candy layers

Outrageous Halloween cake with candy layers

For Halloween we decided to make a cake out of pure junk. While the cake layers are actual brownies, the middle is Halloween candy bars. We used Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups and Mounds Bars. The icing is mostly Marshmallow Fluff. We also used some chocolate frosting in the bottom filling, which you could make or buy. We made our brownies from scratch, since the recipe is as fast as making boxed brownies but you can make them either way or bust buy them. The recipes are at the bottom of the article. TO spread Marshmallow Fluff, it needs to be a bit warm, so warm it in a pan of hot water, or under a warming lamp, or briefly in a microwave.

You  will need 3 layers of brownies to make this cake. Two of ours were normal chocolate brownies and one was a butterscotch brownie recipe, both with added chocolate chips.

  • 3 brownie recipes baked in round pans
  • 10 Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 cup chocolate frosting
  • ½ cup peanuts
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • 13-14 small Mounds bars
  • 10 candy kisses
  • ½ cup chocolate ganache (optional)
  1. Spread the bottom brownie layer with chocolate frosting.
  2. Arrange about 10 Reese’s cups on the top, cutting a few in half so they will nest more closely.

3. Add about ½ cup of peanuts between the Reese’s cups.
4. Spread the bottom of a second brownie layer with Marshmallow Fluff and set it on top of the Reese’s cup layer.

5. Spread the top of that brownie layer with more fluff.
6. Arrange 13 or 14 Mounds bars on top.

7. Spread the bottom of a third layer with more fluff and place on top of the Mounds.
8. Spread more fluff on top and arrange about 10 Hershey’s kisses around the edge.

9. Pour a little warmed chocolate ganache on top (shown at top of article).
10. Chill the cake until ready to serve. Do no freeze as it will toughen the brownies.

Serve very small slices as this is ridiculously rich. It was, however, well received at a rehearsal break by a tribe of hungry actors.

cut-open

 

Chocolate brownies

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F. Melt the butter in microwave for 1 minute at 50% power, and the chocolate for 1.25 minutes at high power, or in a double boiler. Mix together in a bowl and stir in the sugar and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix. Stir in the chocolate chips and optional nuts. Pour into a greased, round cake pan, lined with baking parchment. Bake 30-35 minutes until the top is dry to the touch. Remove from the pan when cooled and cover until you a ready to use it.

Butterscotch brownies

  • ¼ cup melted butter (in the microwave at 50% power)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Mix the butter, sugar and egg with a wire whisk in a bowl until fluffy. Add the salt, baking powder and vanilla and mix until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Pour the batter into a greased round cake pan, lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 25 minutes. Unmold when cool.

Chocolate frosting

  • ½ stick butter (2 oz)
  • ½ lb confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 3-5 Tb milk

Add the butter and sugar to a food processor and process until mixed. Add the milk a Tb at a time until you have a smooth, spreadable icing. Pour in the melted chocolate and process until smooth.

Chocolate ganache

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ lb semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tb honey

Bring the cream snf honry to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk until uniform. Let stand until ganache stiffens. If you are not using it soon, refrigerate. You can rewarm it under a warming lamp or very briefly in the microwave.

 

 

 

Chicken and dumplings: using an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Chicken and dumplings: using an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

We recently saw the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings from Today Show host Natalie Morales. It looked great, but she did it in a slow cooker, which she said would take 4 hours.

We decided to see if we could speed this up using our Instant Pot pressure cooker. Her recipe uses chicken stock and cream of chicken soup. We decided to eliminate those, since we can make the chicken stock in the pot, and thicken it using cornstarch and add a little cream. We also used chicken thighs, because we wanted the bones to make the stock. We also added a leek, and made our own dumplings without using the dreaded Bisquick.

We started by cooking the thighs for 15 minutes using the Poultry pot setting on the trivet over a cup of water. Then we released the pressure and cut the meat off the bones and put it in a bowl, and tossed the bones and any scraps back into the pot, leaving the trivet in place so we could lift them out later, and added vegetables and water, and pressure cooked for 25 minutes.

Then we discarded the bones and vegetables, removed the trivet, and added new veggies cut into bite sized pieces and pressure cooked for 10 minutes. Then we thickened the broth, added cream and the chicken, brought it to a boil using the Saute function and put the dumpling batter on top. We cooked it covered using the Saute feature to cook the dumplings, and then served it, with the dumplings in one bowl and the chicken stew in the other.  Absolutely delicious.

The only change we’d make next time would be adding less water, as the stew was thinner than we had wanted. We had added 6 cups. Probably 4-1/2 to 5 would be more than enough, since there was already a cup in there from cooking the chicken. Also with that much liquid, the sauté function was not able to heat the stew to a real rolling boil when the dumplings were added, but would probably work better with a bit less water.

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 carrots, cut in half
  • 3 stalks celery, cut in half
  • 1 washed leek, cut in several pieces
  • 5 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Remove the skin and place the thighs on the trivet in the Instant Pot.
  2. Add 1 cup water and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. The Poultry button works fine for this.
  3. Release the pressure, remove the thighs, cut the meat away and set aside in a bowl. Refrigerate when cool.
  4. Place the thigh bones and any scraps back on the trivet, and add the vegetables and spices.
  5. Pressure cook for 25 minutes using the Manual setting. Release the pressure, and discard the bones and vegetables.
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 cup corn (any of these can be frozen)
  • 1 cup beans
  • 1 cup peas
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  1. Add the water and toss in the vegetables
  2. Cook under pressure for 10 minutes.
  • 4 Tb cornstarch, dissolved in ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup light cream

dumpling-flour

Dumplings

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tb shortening
  • About ¾ cup milk
  • 2 Tb chopped chives
  1. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  2. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender of 2 forks
  3. Add the chives
  4. Stir in the milk to make a slightly sticky batter
  5. Add the cornstarch solution and cream
  6. Add the chicken back in.
  7. Bring the stew to a boil until thickened. Use more cornstarch if needed.
  8. Drop the dumpling batter by spoonfuls on top of the boiling stew.
  9. Cover the pot and cook the dumplings for 15 minutes.

Serve the stew and dumplings right away in two bowls.

Overall, this recipe took about 75-80 minutes. You could speed it up, of course, by just using canned chicken stock and skipping steps 4-5. Either way, this is definitely worth it and way faster than using the slow cooker approach, which doesn’t seem to add any real advantage.

Serendipitous home fries from failed French fries

home-friesWe were quite taken with this French Fry recipe that suggested that you could make lower fat French fries in your slow cooker. You could avoid doing a bariatric surgery on those. The author says you cut up the potatoes; add salt and your choices of spices, and about 1/3 of a cup of olive oil for 3 lb of potatoes.

Well, we had to try this, so we took 2 large potatoes (about 1.5 lb) and cut them to French fry size, added salt and around 1/6 cup of olive oil and tossed them in our Instant Pot. We set the pot to Slow Cook and the highest temperature setting (high) as recommended by the recipe.

We set the slow cooker to 3 hours, and put the lid on (a glass lid, not the pressure cooker lid)m and stirred them once or twice an hour.

After 3 hours, we had cooked, limp, white potatoes, but nothing like the French fries in the recipe’s picture. We even tried switching to the Saute setting, but this would not brown them either. Either her recipe doesn’t work at all, or it doesn’t work in our Instant Pot, which may have different heating characteristics than her slow cooker.

But we made great potatoes anyway!

We were making hamburgers anyway to go with these failed fries, so we just tossed the potatoes on the griddle, adding a dab of butter for flavor and browned them. This made the most delicious home fries we’ve ever made!

Well, if you think about it, this really says that cooked potatoes maker better home fries, because all you have to concentrate on is browning them: you don’t have to cook them too!

And you can make those cooked potatoes in the Instant pot pressure cooker in about 4 minutes. Add a cup of water, and place the sliced potatoes on the trivet or in a vegetable steamer. Cook 4 minutes and release the pressure right away. Then, dry off the potatoes and brown them on the griddle. They will be great. You could also add bacon or onions at this point to flavor the potatoes. But you will definitely have great home fries with very little work.

And a cast iron frying pan would work as well as a griddle. And you could use a vegetable steamer for a couple of potatoes. For more, use the Instant Pot.

Success comes from failure!

Easy mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot

Easy mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot

It’s not that using a pressure cooker for mashed potatoes is faster,  it’s that they taste better. Once you’ve made mashed potatoes this way, you probably won’t boil them in a pan ever again!

  • 2-4 lb Idaho potatoes (or use Yukon Gold)
  • 2-4 Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Up to ¾ cup buttermilk

Here’s all you have to do.

  1. First peel 2 or more pounds of potatoes, and then cut them in half or at most in quarters if they are really large. Try to cut them so the pieces are pretty much the same size. And don’t cut them into little pieces: the more surface area  you create, the more flavor is leached from the potatoes, whether you steam or boil them. Little pieces may cook more quickly, but the flavor will be much less intense.

2. Place the potato pieces on the trivet inside the Instant Pot, and add 1 cup of water.

3. Close the pot and vent, and select Manual for 13 minutes. Then, vent the pot right away using Quick Release. You don’t want them to overcook. Check them with a fork, to make sure they are cooked through.  If they are not (unlikely) you can close the pot and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Remove the potato pieces and put them in a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. Do not use an immersion blender.

5. Beat the potatoes for a minute and then add butter 2-4 Tb, salt and pepper.

6. Beat in the butter, and then add up to ¼ cup of buttermilk and beat until smooth.

Serve right away.

Poached eggs for a crowd

Poached eggs for a crowd

It is very easy to poach a couple of eggs in a saucepan for a couple of minutes and come out with nice looking perfectly cooked eggs. We use the swirl method, which causes the stray white to wrap around the egg instead of filling up your pan. While it is time consuming, you can also cook them in an Instant Pot: it doesn’t work very well.

But suppose you are making poached eggs for a crowd. We once made Eggs Benedict for 11: that’s 22 eggs. How can you do this quickly and efficiently? Fortunately mass production of poached eggs has been solved years ago, and Harold McGee describes it in his magnum opus, On Food and Cooking.

You use a large pot and add 1 Tb of salt and ½ Tb of vinegar per quart of water. What happens seems almost like a magic trick: you break the eggs into the pot of barely boiling water. They sink to the bottom. But when the eggs are done, they float to the top. You lift them out and put them on toast or muffins to serve. There is no need to keep track of which egg is next. You just keep adding eggs and lift them out when they pop up.

What is happening is a little bit of chemistry:  the vinegar reacts with a bit of bicarbonate in the egg whites, forming small bubbles of carbon dioxide. As the egg white coagulates, the bubbles get trapped in the cooking egg. The salt increases the density of the water just enough that after about 3 minutes of cooking the eggs and their bubbles will float to the surface. And there are no long tails of uncooked white, either. They always look perfect!

To make this work best, you want to use freshly bought eggs, and for a large crowd, use an 8-quart spaghetti cooker pan.

For our photos, to make it easier to see, we used just a 3 quart pan, but you could easily do 6-8 eggs in it, scooping them out as they float to the surface.

And that’s the whole trick. And for even a few eggs, this is a really helpful trick!

Microwaved Poached Eggs

Someone is always publishing some other weird idea for cooking eggs, and here’s another one that doesn’t really work: microwave poached eggs. Supposedly, you put ½ cup of water into a small bowl, break an egg into the water, and cover the dish with a plate and microwave it for a minute.

We tried it, and the egg was seriously overcooked. And while we could have fooled with it to find the right time for our microwave oven, we didn’t bother, because it really doesn’t scale much beyond 2 eggs. You’d have to do them separately, and you get a lot of little bowls (and plates) dirty.

Stick with the swirl method for 2-4 eggs and use the crowd method for large numbers of customers.

One bowl Quiche Lorraine

One bowl Quiche Lorraine

This simplified quiche recipe can almost be made in a single bowl. OK, you have to fry 3 strips of bacon, too, and probably will use a pitcher to fill the piecrust, but the crust and the filling can all be made in the food processor. And you don’t even have to rinse it out between ingredients!  You can have this quiche done in less than an hour including baking the piecrust.

Piecrust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup (or less) cold water
  • Aluminum foil
  • Dry beans for weight

This amount of dough is more than you need: it makes two piecrusts, but since a quiche pan is bigger than one pie pan, we just make two and use the remaining dough for something else.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Put the 2 cups of flour in the food processor and add the shortening. Pulse briefly.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of water and pulse briefly.
  4. Add some of the remaining water and pulse until mixed. If the dough is not smooth, add just a bit more water. The dough should be the consistency of Play-Doh.
  5. Roll out about ¾ of the dough to a circle larger than the quiche pan, fold it in half, and fit it into the quiche pan. Pinch it into place, and cut away any excess dough.
  6. Prick the dough in a few places with a fork.
  7. Put a sheet of aluminum foil over the piecrust and fill it with dried beans to weight down the crust.
  8. Bake 8-9 minutes, remove the foil and beans, and bake 2 more minutes.

Quiche filling

In this method, we create the filling but do not fill the pie shell until we have it sitting in the oven.  This prevents the filling from slopping over into the oven when you put the pie in.

  • 3 strips bacon, fried and drained
  • 4 oz Swiss cheese (Emmentaler or Jarlsberg)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups light cream
  • Chopped chives or green onions
  1. Reduce oven heat to 375°F
  2. Put the cheese in the food processor and grate it with the steel blade.
  3. Add the eggs and cream and pulse until mixed.
  4. Cut the bacon into small pieces and place on the crust.
  5. Pour the quiche filling into a 2 cup pitcher, making sure to get all the cheese
  6. Place the quiche pan on a pulled-out oven rack, and pour as much of the quiche filling as you can into the pie shell.

7. Top with the chopped chives or onions, close the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife blade comes out clean.

Remove the quiche from the oven, make sure the crust is free of the pan rim and place the quiche pan on top of a cup or jar and press downwards to drop the sides of the pan. Place the quiche on a platter and serve at once.

 

Baking potatoes the right way

Some people bake their potatoes in the oven, wrapped in foil or not and some use potato spikes to speed up the process. Others cook potatoes in their microwave oven and other use their charcoal or gas grill. We decided to compare the three basic methods and tell you what we found.

A baked potato means cooked using dry heat. This leaves out the possibility of using a pressure cooker, which steams the potatoes, giving quite a different result. But it turns out that if you wrap your potato in foil, as many do, you are actually steaming the potato using the moisture trapped inside the foil. And there is a difference in the result.

We took 3 russet potatoes each weighing around 200 grams. One we wrapped in foil and one we left unwrapped but inserted a potato spike in the middle to help heat transmit to the center, speeding up the cooking process.  You can get these spikes on Amazon for about $6.50 for 6, and at many hardware and cooking stores as well.

We set the oven to 400° F and baked the potatoes until inserting a fork indicated they were done. At 400°, the spiked potato took about 40 minutes, but the foil-wrapped one took nearly 50 minutes. You could expect these times to be about 10 minutes less at 450° F.

Then, for comparison, we pricked the third potato about 8 times with a fork and cooked it in the microwave oven for 5 minutes. When we removed this potato, it was wrinkly and shriveled, presumably because the microwave process forced more of the potato’s moisture out as steam.

All of the potatoes came out rather differently. The baked potato with the spike was flaky, tender and flavorful. The foil-wrapped potato was mushier, and took 10 minutes longer to bake, which makes foil a silly idea. The microwaved potato was the worst of all, being the mushiest, and having an odd off-taste, perhaps picked up from the peel. It was truly terrible.

on-grillIf you want to grill your potatoes, add spikes and throw them on the grill, near, but not on the actual fire source. Yes, the outsides will blacken a bit, but it is worth it for the improvement in flavor and texture. A baked potato should be flakey, like many politicians, but not mushy like some other politicians. It will have a nice pleasing texture and a much better flavor. We found that grilled potatoes took about 20 minutes and had an excellent flavor and texture.

Our conclusion: only the oven and grill make an actual baked potato. Foil wrapped takes longer and is mushy, and microwaved potatoes are the worst of all.

 

Poaching eggs in an Instant Pot

Put some water in the Instant Pot and add the little trivet. You ought to be able to poach eggs in some container above the trivet. Right? Right. We went through a dozen or more eggs, eggs-perimenting with this, and tell you that the answer, like all social science is “It depends,” because there are a lot of variables.

Our first trial was to put an egg into each of two little glass ramekins that we had sprayed with cooking spray, and set them on the trivet over 1 cup of water. We closed the pot and the steam vent and pressed the Manual button for 3 minutes. Since it take the pot almost 6 minutes to heat up the water and come to pressure, this actually takes 9 minutes to cook the 2 eggs. We released the pressure quickly (30 seconds) and lifted out the two ramekins on the trivet.

It took a bit of time to unmold the eggs: we ran a thin spatula knife around the edge of each dish to loosen them. And even this wasn’t that quick, because the ramekins were so hot that we had to wait a bit before we could handle them. And unmolding the eggs is delicate enough that using hot pads or gloves just won’t cut it.

But we did get the eggs out and onto toast in about 11.5 minutes. They looked fairly nice, although weird because they are actually upside down: the yolk, which would normally by on top is inverted and is now on the bottom. However, when we cut the eggs open, they were a bit overdone. The yolk was more cooked than we would like for a classic poached egg.  Moreover,  the whites were distinctly tough and rubbery.

Rubbery whites were something we saw in cooking hard-cooked eggs under pressure. It vanished if you cooked the eggs at low pressure.

3-minlp-broken-openSo we tried cooking the eggs at low pressure, reducing the time to 2 minutes. They weren’t sufficiently cooked, so we repeated the experiment at 3 minutes and low pressure. These were actually pretty nice, but again, it was hard to unmold them, and the ramekins were just as hot, so it took some time. Again, the elapsed time was at least 11.5 minutes or more, and while the eggs were cooked well, it was hard not to break them while unmolding them.

Some people have recommended poaching eggs in little silicone cups. We picked up a couple of Poach Pod cups at our local Cook’s Nook.  Some people have also tried other similar egg poacher cups like these from Zenda Home.

poach-pod-broken-openWe sprayed them with cooking spray as they recommended and cooked 2 eggs for 3 minutes at low pressure. They weren’t done, so we returned them to the pot for one more minute. These were done and looked pretty nice in their silicone cups. But, while the pods weren’t as hot as the glass ramekins, they were very difficult to get the eggs out of. In fact, even though we carefully ran the spatula knife around them, one of them broke.  Further, they were hard to center over the toast. While the eggs were cooked properly, getting them out was far too difficult, and we don’t recommend them. This took nearly 12 minutes.

Finally, for comparison, we poached two eggs in a saucepan as we have described before. It takes 3 minutes to bring a quart of water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan, then we turn the heat down so the water is barely bubbling, swirl it with wire whisk and crack the eggs one at a time into the swirls. The eggs are done in 2-3 minutes. The total time was 6 minutes, including lifting the eggs out onto the toast. And there are many fewer dirty dishes!

So, we conclude that while it is certainly possible to poach eggs in the Instant Pot, it takes twice as long as in a saucepan, and since the cooking time is so brief, you have to watch the pot timer like a hawk so they don’t overcook. This takes away the “set it and forget it” advantages of the Instant Pot that you get for longer cooking stews or rice.