Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to Scramble Eggs

One of the first things I learned to cook was a scrambled egg. They turned out as a flat, slightly browned disc. While perfectly appropriate for an egg sandwich, I've since learned to make the light, fluffy kind of scrambled eggs. There's something to be said for age and experience, I think.

It's best to use a non-stick skillet or saute pan. Believe it or not, a cast-iron skillet with a great patina, built up over, time, is just as good. You just don't wan the eggs to stick to the bottom and burn.

The secret to fluffy, creamy, scrambled eggs to cook the eggs gently and slowly over medium-low heat, stirring all the time. They can be served plain but I like spicing them up with chopped herbs like dill or parsley.

Ingredients (for each adult serving)

2 eggs
1 tablespoon of milk or water
dash of salt
dash of pepper
A sprinkle of dried or freshly chopped herbs, to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon of butter or cooking oil


In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, except the butter. If you're going to use chopped herbs, add them now. Don't whisk the eggs to long, trying to get a perfect homogeneous yellow mixture. It's not worth the time and the eggs will get rubbery if you beat them too long.

Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat until the butter stops foaming. Reduce heat to medium low. You can use other oils for this, but I find that butter seems to work best both for taste, and to help stop the eggs from sticking. Butter is always better for taste, but, to be honest, I'm not sure why it would help things stick less than oil. Maybe you'll leave a comment and explain it to me. Pour in the egg mixture.

Now you need to decide if you want a large “curd” or a small one. If you want large curds, stir gently with a non-stick safe spatula, fold the egg bits over them selves until almost set. There will be no browning.

I prefer a smaller curd so I just use the same whisk I beat the eggs with. I think the eggs turn out more fluffy that way. Be careful so you don't scratch the bottom of the pan. Better still, use one of the new non-stick whisks made with heat resistant plastic. Use the same one you used for whipping the eggs in the first place. In either case, make sure you're pulling the egg up off the bottom of the pan as it cooks.

Once it is almost set, remove it from the heat and let it set for one more minute, still stirring. Don't worry. There's plenty of heat left in the pan to cook the rest of the eggs.

Serve immediately.

Quick tip: Because you don't want to beat the eggs too long, anyway, the only reason to whisk the eggs in a bowl before hand is to avoid getting bits of egg shell in the pan. If you want to save some time, and you don't usually get shell bits in your egg when you crack them open, anyway, crack the eggs directly into the heated pan. Add the milk, salt, pepper and herb, and go at it with the whisk. Why dirty another dish if you don't have to? My kids like to put ketchup on their scrambled eggs. Once in a while, try adding a dash of soy sauce to the egg mixture before you cook them. It adds extra complexity and deepens the egg flavor. If you really want to “guild the lilly” though, replace the milk in this recipe with cream and serve the eggs with very thin slices of smoked salmon or fried salami.

Photo by Steve Woods

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