Chef Mike whips up the best ever version of the breakfast basic
Scrambled eggs seem simple enough. Mix up some eggs in a bowl, stir them around in a pan until they are cooked, serve with toast and bacon. Wham, bam, breakfast ma’am. I mean, how complicated can a dish be if you can make it on a Rossville Blvd. motel hotplate while doing wake-up shots with a twelve-toed stripper from Rhea County? Not terribly complicated.
But there is a difference between creamy, flavorful scrambled eggs and just chopping up a mass of cooked eggs into yellow, rubbery chunks. You don’t have to turn breakfast into a modernist cuisine science project, but a little egg knowledge and some patience will keep you from certain scrambled egg fail.
1) Stop beating your eggs before putting them in the pan. Just stop it. You’re not making a soufflé. Simply crack your eggs into a cold pan with a knob of butter and turn the heat on low. There is no need to beat your eggs like they owe you money, just make sure the whites and yolks are thoroughly mixed (but don’t tell Donald Trump or he’ll bloviate all over your breakfast).
2) Stop adding milk to your scrambled eggs. I don’t care if your mom and grandmother did it that way (mine did, too) but that doesn’t make it right. Diluting your scrambled eggs with a liquid, such as milk, raises the temperature at which the eggs will thicken by surrounding the protein molecules with a bunch of extra water molecules. This means the proteins must be hotter and move around more rapidly to find and bond to each other to “set” your eggs.
Having to apply extra heat to compensate for the added liquid means you’re probably going to overcook your eggs and make Wyllie Dufresne cry. Sure, Harold McGee says the added cold liquid slows down cooking and reduces the possibility of overcooking, but here’s an idea—how about if we just turn down the heat and avoid both overcooking and diluting our eggs?
3) Cook your scrambled eggs slowly, over low heat and constantly stir them gently with a whisk. If you can’t spare the extra five minutes to make delicate, creamy, fluffy egg heaven, then you need to reconsider your morning priorities. When scrambled eggs are subjected to high heat they become hateful, spongy chunks of regret. Bacon can’t even heal those wounds of regret. Keep the heat low. Stir constantly. Stir gently.
4) Some folks cook their scrambled eggs until they are completely solid before removing them from the heat and serving them. This is why we can’t have nice things. The residual heat in the pan will continue to cook the eggs even after you’ve taken them off the heat because, you know, heat cooks things. Get your scrambled eggs off the heat just before they fully set, so they don’t become a sad mass of overcooked egg protein and you don’t become the object of breakfast table derision.
5) Don’t salt your eggs until they are finished cooking. The theory is that salting eggs before cooking breaks them down and makes them watery. I tend to agree and prefer the consistency I get by waiting to add salt until the end. An added bonus is the “bite” the grains of undissolved salt give to the finished dish.
6) Add crème fraîche or sour cream (a la “Ralphie” Cifaretto) once your scrambled eggs are finished cooking. A nice dollop will give you all the extra creaminess and tanginess you want from an egg/dairy combo, but doesn’t have the bad side effects you get from diluting your eggs with milk.
Chef Mike's Scrambled Eggs
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1-2 tbsp. crème fraîche (or sour cream if you’re fraîche out of fraîche)
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp. chives or green onions, diced
- 2-3 thick slices of your favorite bread
Crack the eggs into a cold pan, add the butter and put over medium-low heat.
Using a whisk, stir the eggs continuously to combine the yolks with the whites (don’t whip the eggs, just stir).
As the mixture begins to set, keep moving the pan off and back on the heat, constantly stirring until the eggs begin to thicken and develop a creamy texture.
Take off the heat!
Toast, then butter the bread.
Fold in the crème fraîche, salt, pepper and chopped chives.
Put the toast on a plate, spoon the soft, scrambled eggs on top and eat.