Eggs, eggs, eggs…
That’s all I’ve been writing about as of late here at NewsBlaze, and that’s not a bad thing. The delicious diversity and ultimate potential of an egg is enough reason to consider them seriously. To cook well, you have to know the egg. Those that cannot cook an egg cannot cook. Or so I’ve been told by some respected chefs, with reason.
So far, I’ve written about the perfect hard-boiled egg. Perfect so far as the at home cook doesn’t take it to the next level of controlled cooking by cooking it sous vide. I’m saving that article for later. I’m focusing on what can be achieved at home easily and consistently when it comes to cooking.
I’ve also covered poaching an egg without vinegar or any aluminum boats. The poached eggs that can be achieved with this technique are about as close to perfect as one could want. However, since then, during a discussion on poaching eggs, it has been brought to my attention by a chef I know well and respect very much, that you can indeed add vinegar to the water that you poach an egg in without the egg tasting of vinegar. But it’s a hit or miss affair-which I am sure can be mastered with the same time and technique needed to do it the way I promoted-and I’d rather continue with the technique I described because it makes me feel a purist.
In reality though, a combination of the techniques is probably your best bet. A little vinegar, spin some water and poach an egg like no ones poached an egg before. Believe I will be testing this at length in the future. But for now, the technique I described will get you into the ballpark of the poached eggs you find in the finer restaurants.
With that said, I am now going to teach you how to scramble eggs. I could get into the science of a scrambled egg-how the proteins break their bonds through heat, or hold onto air though excessive beating and latch to themselves creating a matrix that contains the air introduced and the water already present in egg whites to give you the nice fluffy texture we all enjoy-but I won’t.
I’m not going to for the simple fact that I don’t want to turn this into a dissertation and because the majority of people just want to cook a good egg. They don’t want to get into the science behind it-which they should-they just want to “perform.” And to that I say, fair enough. In time I will get to the science behind it, but for now I will prove it works.
For the people interested in the details, the information’s out there.
Here are two good places to start…
But for now, we’ll immediately get into scrambling an egg, the right way.
Start by cracking the eggs into a bowl. If you’ve taken the time to read about the different parts of the egg, I encourage you to now poke around them and identify the parts.
After you’re done impressing yourself with your new found egg knowledge, wash your hands and leave them in the bowl whole and unbroken.
Dump the bowl of eggs into a well-buttered frying pan over medium heat. I find a notch past medium is the best setting for me. The reason I don’t crack them directly into the pan is to ensure that each of them cook consistently.
The heat should not be high enough to fry the egg. If you hear sizzling when the egg hits the pan, you’ve got the pan too hot. Take the pan off the heat, reflect on what you’ve done, and begin again. Or you could just own up to the error and make a great fried egg (my next and last egg article for awhile).
This is most definitely a case of “not enough is better than too much.” There’s no saving an over cooked egg. If you have the correct heat and the eggs are warming nicely, give yourself a celebratory high five.
The spatula is key for scraping the bottom of the pan effectively.
Stir the eggs with a spatula until they begin to set on the bottom of the frying pan. You’ll see the cooking egg begin to build up on the lip of your spatula. Remember, you do not want to fry the eggs. Carefully controlling this medium heat will allow you to coddle the proteins in the egg into gradually and gently bonding with each other causing the egg to cook; the egg white to go from translucent to opaque.
Think of the cooking proteins as uptight party goers awkwardly being introduced to a room full of new people. You want to cajole them and give them a few stiff drinks (heat) so they loosen up and mingle with a few other proteins (cook). You don’t want to get them wasted (fry) and make a mess of the party as they run around making a fool of themselves while grabbing onto every other protein in the immediate area, and that’s what happens when they fry.
A fried egg is like a Metallica mosh pit in your pan if you will, while a good scrambled egg is more like a Crosby Stills & Nash acoustic performance.
Once the eggs begin to set rapidly, remove the pan from the heat. We don’t want the cooking to get out of control. Remember, we’re at a Crosby Stills & Nash concert so relax and stay mellow.
Continue stirring and tossing the eggs until the pan looses enough heat so that the eggs no longer set or cook on the bottom of the pan.
Replace the pan on the heat and stir until they start rapidly setting again, then remove the pan and repeat. Repeat this until almost all of the eggs are cooked.
The constant stirring and removing the pan from the heat ensures that all of the egg is cooked evenly and also reduces the risk of over cooking. Also, it introduces a small amount of air into the mix that helps to keep your scrambled eggs light and fluffy. Eggs done right are delicate and require attention, like a bunch of hippies (proteins) on bean bags (air) vibing out in a room to an acoustic Crosby Stills & Nash (gently holding on to each other and swaying back and forth to the mellow sounds of mullets and mustaches), but much more delicious.
Once the eggs are to a point where you think they will be done, when the eggs are slightly wet and moist and look like they could stand another minute on the burner, remove them immediately. Add a small amount of milk, or ideally cream-I usually grab the half-and-half I use for coffee-and stir it into the eggs while keeping the pan off the heat. This is another case where too little is better than too much. Make sure you don’t add too much cream or else your eggs will become soupy.
Removing the pan from the burner means the heat that the eggs and pan retain will continue to cook the eggs well after it is removed. Keeping it on the burner and taking it off when they look cooked means that they will continue to cook themselves when removed and ultimately end up over cooked.
Now all you have to do is put these mind-blowingly nice scrambled eggs on plates, and then season them. There’s no need to season them as they cook. In short, if you salt them in the pan, the salt will begin to break down the egg as the egg is cooking and the result is an egg with some of its natural integrity and structure compromised. Think of the salt as a dozen drunk and fired up Metallica fans being unleashed into the middle of our hippies. The egg will not be as rich and harmonious as it could have been.
Sit down with a stiff drink-you’ll need it-and prepare yourself for the shock and awe of just how good your scrambled eggs are.
Do yourself a favor and search YouTube for “Perfect Scrambled Eggs Breakfast.” It’s a video by Gordon Ramsay where he cooks more than just eggs, but the eggs he does cook, are cooked using the technique I just described, without all the hippie talk.
As always I encourage communication. Feel free to e-mail me, leave me nasty comments on my blog or offer suggestions that will improve the quality of scrambled eggs. I am an extremely important man, it’s true, but I always make time and scrambled eggs for my readers.