Friday, September 27, 2019

DIY Egg Bites: Instant Pot vs. Sous Vide with Nando's Peri Peri

I was sent products from Nando's free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

It is a universal fact at this point that the sous vide egg bites are the single best item on the Starbucks food menu. I've personally been obsessed with them even since they first premiered. There is just something so pleasing about their unique velvety smooth texture. As far as fast food breakfast options, there really is nothing like them out there at the moment.

This is perhaps why the internet has been positively flooded with recipes for these darn things. The most common form they seem to take are the versions made in specifically designed silicon molds in an Instant Pot. I actually had received one of these molds for Christmas last year because my mother had remembered me raving about the dynamic little protein bombs. But ever since I got a sous vide machine that actually fits inside my Instant Pot, I've been curious about whether you actually needed to use a sous vide to achieve that distinctive texture. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I set out to test one morning.

First, I started out by making one egg mixture base to be used in both tests. I scrambled 6 eggs, then added 1/4 a cup of softened cream cheese (many recipes use cottage cheese, and reportedly, so does the original Starbucks recipe) and some salt. I then divided the base into two batches; to the first batch I added some crisped and crumbled bacon and some shredded cheddar cheese, and to the second batch I added some Swiss cheese and spinach I had sauted and squeezed the moisture out of. Then, wanting to kick things up a notch, I grabbed some Nando's Peri-Peri Sauce.

Now, if you've been around here for any length of time, you'll know that I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to spice. However, I make an exception for Nando's Peri-Peri. Ever since they came to Chicago, I have been obsessed with their range of sauces, all made with African bird's eye chilies, AKA peri-peri. They do have heat, don't get me wrong, but they also have a bright vinegary base that gives them a really well rounded flavor, especially when slathered all over Nando's famous South African chicken. The sauces have recently become available in grocery stores all across Chicago, but they are also available through Amazon.

Since I am a spice wuss at heart, I opted to use two of the sauces from the medium range to kick up my egg bites. For the spinach and Swiss, I added the regular Medium Peri-Peri sauce, and for the bacon and cheddar, I added the Garlic Medium, (my personal fav). For the Instant Pot version, I poured the mixtures into the individual cavities of the silicon mold, about 3/4 of the way full, put on the lid, and set it inside the Instant Pot on top of the trivet with 1 cup of water in the bottom. I then set the Instant Pot for 10 minutes. For the sous vide, I poured the mixtures into some jam jars and made sure they were sealed tight. I then put them in the water bath and set my circulator to 172 degrees for an hour.

The Results:

Instant Pot Version: The eggs ended up expanding more than I thought they would and popped the lid off the mold. Next time, I might try sealing it with some tin foil. The flavor of these egg bites was great. Lots of vinegar and spice from the Nando's sauce coming through, saltiness from the cheeses, etc. The texture was good... but not like the originals. They just didn't have that same silky, velvety, luxurious mouthfeel. They were more along the lines of a steamed or baked egg... which is pretty much what they were. Still, using the mold made them very easy to pick up and eat as well as pack for on the go.

The Sous Vide Version
: This cooking method ended up dulling the flavors just a tinsy bit, so next time I try this, I probably would add a bit more of the Nando's sauce. The texture was almost spot on, though because of the amount of fillings I had added, the eggs didn't quite hold together like the Starbucks ones. It ended up being easier to scoop them out of the jar with a spoon. Still portable, but maybe not ideal for everyone to have to carry their breakfast in a glass jar with a metal lid. Still, the eggs were perfectly silky and pleasing. It was also a pain in the butt to clean the jars afterwards, even though I had oiled them to try and avoid the eggs sticking to the glass. But this might have happened because my jars were textured on the inside, and I only filled them about half way.

Verdict: The Instant Pot version was definitely quicker to do and tasted fine, but if I were to do these again, which I probably will, I would try to perfect the sous vide version, because the texture was just so close. A few less add-ins, perhaps, smaller jars, and using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese would be my next experiment. I'd also like to try a shredded chicken and sweet onion version with the Nando's Lemon and Herb sauce.

So what do you think? Would you go through the hassle of sous vide just to get that addictive texture at home? Or would you opt for the convenience of the Instant Pot method? Let me know in the comments below!

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