Writing a how-to on making scrambled eggs feels like taking my virtual life in my hands. Everyone makes scrambled eggs differently; everyone has strong feelings about them. And some of you will inevitably say that this is elementary! Everyone already knows how to do this! Well, you know what? I just wanted to make scrambled eggs. And personally? I like them creamy, luscious, and custard-like. Here is how I do it. These are slow-cooked eggs — they stop short of Laurie Colwin's method of cooking them very, very slowly over an hour in a double boiler with half a pint of cream, but they are made in this spirit. They are cooked slowly, in the smallest pan you have, over very low heat. (You can use a flame-tamer on a gas stove to get a really low, even heat.)
The result is creamy, custardy eggs that slip off your spoon into your mouth; they wobble ever so slightly, and spread like fluffy ricotta on toast. They are simply luscious, and if I'm going to make scrambled eggs, this is how I am going to do them.
How do you make scrambled eggs? Do you like them creamy and slow, or quick and chopped up, diner-style?
What You Need
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
Whisk or fork
Very small saucepan or high-sided sauté pan
Wooden spoon or spatula
1. Choose the smallest saucepan or sauté pan you have. It should be heavy, with a good solid bottom to evenly distribute heat.
2. Pull out your eggs and decide how many you want. I feel that for best effect it's good to do at least two or three. Ideally at least three. Less than that, and it's hard to keep the eggs from cooking too fast.
3. If you want, though, you can also add some cream to help buffer the eggs and make them creamy. (See note below about cream vs. milk in scrambled eggs.) I add about 1 teaspoon of cream per egg, so for this batch of 3 scrambled eggs, I added about 1 tablespoon.
4. Before you beat your eggs, heat your small pan over low heat, and add a small knob (about a teaspoon) of butter. Let it melt.
5. Break your eggs into a small bowl.
6. Beat the eggs thoroughly. This simple step is actually very important to good scrambled eggs. Beat them so that the yolks are completely broken up and incorporated with the whites. The mixture should look evenly yellow — not patchy and half-mixed. If you are using cream, whisk it in now as well.
7. By now your butter should be melted and evenly distributed in the pan. Any foam will have subsided.
8. Pour in your eggs, and make sure the heat is still very, very low.
9. Depending on the amount of eggs you used, and the size of your pan, you should now plan on cooking the eggs for about 15 minutes.
10. The more frequently you stir the eggs, the more custardy they will be. If you stirred constantly they will turn out almost like a creamy pudding! I don't have the patience for that, so I stir every couple minutes, which works out well if you are prepping other breakfast items. You can make toast and coffee and slice up some fruit in the time it takes for these to cook.
11. You can see here the custardy curds of egg forming, around the 5-minute mark.
12. Near the end of cooking the eggs will get much thicker, but still creamy.
13. When the eggs are dry and cooked enough for your taste, season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir in fresh herbs, if you would like. (There are chives in these, which were perfectly delightful.)
14. Bonus step: Don't forget to immediately fill the egg pan with hot soapy water when you take the eggs out! Then the cooked egg will come right off when you go to wash it. If you let it dry and get hard, it's a real pain to wash off.
• Some people use milk in their scrambled eggs. I firmly believe that this makes the eggs rubbery. The full-fat whipping cream makes them creamy, but use it or leave it out completely. Don't substitute milk.
• You can hold these in a slightly warm oven, or in a double boiler, to keep them warm for brunch. But they cook so slowly, especially when you are doing a larger quantity, that it should be easy to time them precisely for when you sit down to eat.
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(Originally published April 6, 2010)
(Images: Faith Durand)