Article and photo by Lisa Crockett
I love breakfast. I can’t think of a single breakfast food that doesn’t appeal to me, no matter what time of day I’m eating. I also love it when people make breakfast, serve it to me, and then do all the dishes. In fact, the greatest gift I can get is a meal, lovingly prepared, that leaves behind nothing but a clean kitchen and a happy memory.
In short, I love Mother’s Day. The other 364 days of the year, I’m (usually) happy to lead the charge in the kitchen. One of the key ways I show my love for friends and family is to feed them, and it’s a role I happily accept. I love to make a mess in the kitchen, and I don’t generally mind cleaning that mess up. On Mother’s Day, though, I am more than happy to relinquish that spot and let my family spoil me a little.
Of course, in addition to being a mom, I also have a mom, so there are many Mother’s Days in my life when I’ve been the person whipping up a breakfast treat for her. And while I like to hang out in bed to eat Mother’s Day breakfast, my mom would much rather sit at the table. For her, a brunch buffet to share with family and friends is the ideal way to honor all she has done for me.
Eggs are often the centerpiece at brunch. I love a tasty egg casserole filled with gooey cheese and crusty bread or hearty potatoes, but my mom tends to favor lighter fare. Running an omelet station at home, while delicious, is pretty cumbersome if you ask me. Scrambled eggs are good, but seem a little pedestrian for a celebration. Hard-boiled eggs are cold, and seem better for Easter than Mother’s Day.
Poached eggs, though, strike the perfect balance of out-of-the ordinary and simple. Until recently, poaching eggs for more than one or two people was a task I just couldn’t face. Getting the water to just the right temperature and then cracking the egg into it and letting it simmer while keeping the egg intact isn’t for the faint of heart. It also means standing over the stove and producing the eggs in batches, which isn’t ideal if you’re cooking for a crowd.
Enter the oven-poached egg. I stumbled across this method a few months ago, and while the results are slightly different from the real deal, the differences are subtle enough that I’m converted. Using a standard muffin pan, eggs can be poached by the dozen, cooking gently while you prepare the rest of the meal.
After a little trial and error making poached eggs in the oven, I highly recommend using a non-stick pan if you have it (please note: if you’re making breakfast for your mom, DO NOT leave a mess for her to clean up later. No matter what!) If you don’t have a non-stick pan, use a non-stick spray and prepare to use a little elbow grease to get the pans sparkling clean when you’re done. It’s also helpful to know how runny your guests like their egg yolks; really runny yolks should come out of the oven a few minutes sooner than firmer ones.
Once you’re ready to go, pop the eggs in the oven and then relax. Because several eggs can be done at once, everyone can sit down to a meal together and enjoy some time with mom, and that’s truly the gift she wants most of all.
Easy eggs poached in the oven
12 tablespoons water
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray
Toast, lightly buttered, if desired for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter, shortening or cooking spray (if using a non-stick pan, skip this step.) Put one tablespoon of water in each cup and then gently crack an egg in each cup, taking care not to break the egg yolk. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until egg white is completely set and egg yolk has achieved the texture you desire – less time for runnier yolks and more time for firmer yolks.
Season eggs with salt and pepper, remove them gently from the pan using a slotted spoon and serve on toast.