September 2, 2013-
Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. It seems, while I wasn't paying attention, some alien creature came along and sapped us of our ability to make a simple breakfast sandwich without this monstrosity of a one-trick-pony. I was unaware. In my oblivion, I had been toasting the muffin, cooking the egg AND frying the bacon in a time-consuming, laborious manner that would put (I guess) most people down for a nap. How was I to know that there was a betterfastereasier way? Hamilton Beach knows. They know that we, as a country, are too busy, too frazzled, unable to fork open our Thomas's, or pan fry our bacon. Too tired to cook a perfect egg, and certainly too addled to layer the whole thing correctly or neatly. Hamilton Beach has provided the answer.
First off, it comes with clear directions (please note you still have to fork your muffin yourself) which helps out a lot. Because we all know that the assembly of a breakfast sandwich can be downright baffling. Does the egg go on the top? The bottom? Decisions like that. Life's just easier if we don't have to decide. Now, the downside is, we don't have a lot of room for creativity. Muffins need to be a specific size, and apparently, HB does not have my penchant for bacon. I have no interest in the Canadian style, unless it's on my Eggs Benny. So, I'm finding this appliance a little fascist. And I'm not seeing cheese, AKA the glue and heart of the breakfast sandwich. But, that's all me. For all I know, there could also be some kind of anti-cheese movement of which I am oblivious.
Next comes the actual technique. It appears the bottom muffin sits on the heated plate on the base of the sandwich-maker, then a metal plate slides into place where the egg is cracked on it (if you have ever cooked an egg in a pan, you KNOW how that goes, I don't see my egg keeping to the four inch circle, and maybe I shouldn't judge without actually trying the thing myself- but I really do see potential for a big, runny mess if this sucker doesn't get hot enough.
This gives a better perspective of the sliding plate that holds the egg- once it's perfectly cooked, just pull the plate out and the egg will sit in perfect alignment on the lonely, cheese-less muffin bottom. I can feel the sense of accomplishment already. It's the kind of accomplishment one feels as the "good try" ribbon is pinned on, even though maybe you only beat two trees. Where's the challenge? Where's the creativity? The skill(et)? Sure, I can cut my cheese into a circle or break my bacon into jigsaw puzzle-like pieces, if I must.
In a perfect world, this piece of equipment replaces the breakfast-time use of a pan, a spatula and a toaster. Wow. There's a savings.
I have to come clean, I never added this post to my blog because it felt, well, wrong. Here I was, trashing something that I hadn't even tried. In the spirit of fair play, I made an effort to set things right.
October 5, 2013-
Well, I'm the begrudging owner of this little thingy.
While paying for it at the register, the clerk said to me, "Oh, I was going to get my son one of those! He's in college." I had to keep my mouth shut, because as we all know, I was buying it to prove no one EVER needed to own such a one-trick-pony. Then she said, "But instead, we got him those Jimmy Dean microwave sandwich things. You can buy them in bulk at BJ's." I was torn between pointing out the uselessness of a microwave breakfast sandwich, but then thought better of it because, well, frankly, I didn't really care. I wanted to get my little robot home and finish my blog post.
I forked my muffin (heh, heh) got out my round meat product and round cheese. After lightly spraying the outside of the muffin with Mr. Misto, the bottom was placed in the lower round, then the cheese, then the meat. The cooking disk slid into place. Another spray from the Mister, and then the egg was cracked in. "Burst the yolk" was clearly stated in the instructions. I really didn't want to, but I did anyway. Experimenting could come later.
DING! Five minutes later, I slid the egg plate away, and the egg plopped onto the meat and cheese. Lifting the lid revealed a perfectly serviceable egg sandwich.
But then we saw this.... lacy cheese!! The muffin was surrounded by the most perfect, golden, crunchy ring of lacy cheese ever seen. Even Willow was impressed.
Since I had a Super Taster in the building, we cut the thing in half, each taking a bite. For a first attempt, we both agreed, it was pretty darn good. Sure, the egg was over-cooked to our taste and it could have used a little more pizazz, but that was ok. It was not a fail.
I had more testing to do, however. The next day, I packed Gizmo up and carted him off to work, to see if he could handle a little mass production.
It did, with aplomb. Staff was fed, and eggs were cooked perfectly, once I figured the timing out. I had to admit, this was not a bad thing to have around. Clean up was just a quick wipe with a wet sponge on the hot surfaces, and the ring could be washed in the dishwasher. I didn't lose any egg at all, except for once (my fault) when I didn't have the ring perfectly aligned. Beginner mistake. I also added bacon and hot sauce, omitting the ham, and it was delicious. At another test session, I heated up a left-over turkey burger, with cheese on an English muffin. I wanted to use a whole wheat thin, but the rings were too small. It heated the burger up perfectly, not over-cooking something that was fully cooked already.
Am I sold on the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker? Yup. I've used it many times since, and it has yet to disappoint. I plan on spending a day with it doing some more daring recipes, and I'll be sure to share that here. As for me, well, I guess it's time to have a more open mind about kitchen gadgets. While I don't see me getting on board with the tortilla bowl pan, I can no longer say with any conviction that it WON'T happen.