Microwaves and eggs usually don’t work well together. Eggs’ structural perfection is at a constant struggle with the erratic direction of a microwave’s electromagnetic waves, and, without controls, results in an unevenly cooked egg — and that’s without the shell. When you cook an egg in its shell, the propensity for an eggsplosion increases exponentially; the shell doesn’t budge while the whites and yolk expand, ultimately shooting pieces of fragmented shell, whites and yolks everywhere except the plate. Cook eggs in the microwave under controlled conditions; cook the yolks and whites covered in separate bowls and time them fastidiously.

Basic Method

Lightly butter 1 small microwave-safe bowls or cups — the smaller the better — for each egg. You can use oil, but the water in butter evaporates during cooking and creates a tender white. Separate the eggs into the bowls, the whites in one and yolks in the other. Stir the yolks with a fork, just enough to break them up, and wrap each bowl or cup in plastic wrap. Microwave the yolks on medium power, or 50 percent, for 30 seconds; microwave the whites for 1 minutes. Let the eggs stand for 2 minutes, or until cool enough to chop.

Microwave Poachers

Microwave egg poachers almost act as a shell replacement; they typically contain 2 egg-shaped cavities that each hold 1 whole egg. The eggs retain their shape during cooking and, after cooling, come out shaped like a regular hard-boiled egg.

Crack 1 egg into each cavity of the poacher and pierce the yolk with a toothpick. Add a scant amount of water to each egg — about 1/4 teaspoon — and close the hinged cover over the poacher. Microwave the eggs on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute — check after 1 minute, and if they need more time, cook them for 5 more seconds.

Microwave-Fried Eggs

“Microwave-fried” sounds like an oxymoron, but if you create the proper conditions, you’ll have a passable fried egg using the microwave.

Lightly oil one 10-inch pie plate for each egg and crack an egg into it. Spear the yolks with a toothpick and drape a piece of plastic wrap over the plate — you need a little steam to escape to create the “fried” effect. Microwave the eggs on medium power for 2 minutes, or until they reach the desired doneness.

Microwave Quiche

The microwave might be limited in terms of quality cooking, but knowing its restrictions lets you build a dish around them. For example, quiches — typically the domain of heavy-bottomed skillets and stovetops — respond well to microwave cooking: Even distribution of ingredients helps them cook even in a microwave.

To make a quick quiche in a coffee cup, beat equal parts egg and milk and season with salt and pepper. Tear a small piece of crusty bread into the mix — not enough to soak up all the egg, about 1/4 to 1/2 of it — and add a dollop of sour cream to smooth everything out. Next, add the ingredients — chopped onions and cooked bacon are always good — or any small-diced ingredient that can heat through in a couple minutes. Stir in cheese and microwave on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the eggs set.