I don’t know about you, but I am EXTREMELY picky when it comes to eggs at breakfast – be it fried or scrambled. With a good fried egg, I want the white fully set, with the yolk bright and runny. As for scrambled – they MUST be cooked through without being dry or rubbery. I’m no expert when it comes to eggs, I just know what I like, what my family will eat and what works for me.
Naturally, the very best eggs are farm-fresh. If you have access to an egg farm – take advantage of that. If not, make do with what’s available. Just check the dates, make sure the eggs are properly stored and be leery of “clearance” specials when it comes to eggs. Fresher eggs are best fried, older scrambled and the oldest boiled. We all know the trick to check for too much gas, right? Place an egg in a cup or pan of water with about an inch of water covering the egg. If it’s buoyant, bobbing about, you might not want to eat it. Just saying . . .
When we have traveled abroad, I noticed that in France or in countries with a heavy French influence in their food, scrambled eggs are more like scrambled soup. No offence to those who prefer their eggs somewhat undercooked. I’ve tried them, and I don’t care for the texture. To each their own, it’s just not my cup of tea. I’ve read that runny eggs actually have a more natural flavor – that might very well be true, I just can’t get passed the soupiness (if that’s even a word).
Most restaurants (and more so the breakfast buffet) tend to over-cook their eggs. In part, this is because the eggs are “held” before serving. This is done by placing the cooked eggs under a heat lamp while the rest of the meal is plated or while waiting for the food server to grab the plates. As for buffets – well there is simply no way to keep the eggs warm without allowing them to continue to cook. The result is a rubbery, over-cooked egg.
I’ve read a lot of different approaches to scrambled eggs – use a cold pan, whip the eggs before cooking, place beaten eggs in a zip-lock bag and boil them. Add seasonings and whatever else (such as cheeses and herbs) after the eggs are cooked. Add your extras to the bowl of whipped eggs. No one seems to agree. I say whatever works for you to produce the eggs you desire is the right technique for you.
Once upon a time, I beat, scrambled or whip my eggs in a bowl before cooking. I don’t anymore, if for no other reason than it’s another dish to wash that really didn’t seem all that necessary. Cracking the eggs directly in the pan takes a little skill to avoid bits of shells from dropping into the pan. Gently crack the egg on a flat surface and “open” it over the pan will, when done with care, avoid this. As for adding moisture, I will add a little milk – maybe about 1/2 tablespoon or so for 8 jumbo eggs, so it’s not much. This helps the eggs “steam” a bit, and fluff up. I do add the salt and pepper early in the cooking stage, and the same goes for chopped onions. However; more delicate herbs or chives I won’t add until almost the end.
Here is what I know about making scrambled eggs that are cooked through, fluffy and done “just right” for me. First, warm the pan slightly – just enough to melt a little butter or bacon drippings (yeah, dirty scrambled eggs are good!). Remove the pan from the heat, break eggs directly into the pan, one egg at a time. Return the pan to the heat and allow eggs to begin to set without disturbing them. When the whites just begin to cloud-over (barely warmed), use a flat wooden spoon or soft spatula to “scramble” the eggs right in the pan. Add a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Cook the eggs slowly – it’s not a race. This will give you better control over the doneness of your eggs. Continue to push the eggs toward the center of the pan in a lifting motion, allowing the less cooked egg to slide under. As the eggs cook, lift and fluff. Scrambled eggs must be watched at all times. The difference between slightly undercooked and slightly over-cooked scrambled eggs can be less than a minute. Just before the eggs are fully cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and continue to scramble. The heat from the pan and the eggs themselves will continue the cooking process slowly, giving you even more control over the end result.
Whenever possible, have everything else you are serving ready to go – bacon, toast, potatoes – just about anything else can all be held in a warm oven until the eggs are done. The best scrambled eggs are those that go straight from the skillet to the plate to the table.
Happy scrambling everyone!