Culinary school 101: scrambled eggs

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I never craved a big, all-out American breakfast as often as when I moved to France. I have always loved breakfast, even breakfast for lunch or dinner, but once I came here and traded bistrots and brasseries for diners, I knew that I’d have to make up for this lack of breakfast food myself. Enter in real pancakes not made with a mix, learning to make hashbrowns from scratch (blanch and shred and fry? Fry and bake?), and of course lots of experimentations with eggs. I learned to make scrambled eggs at a young age, by whisking eggs and milk together, dumping it into a frying pan and scraping the runny eggs around with a spatula until they were all cooked. Oh, and usually topping it all off with American cheese squares right before serving. These eggs, in all their different variations, were perfectly delicious until I learned how scrambled eggs were supposed to be made. And my mind was blown by the incredible texture and most of all the rich, in-depth flavor. The ingredients had barely changed and the method slightly, but this was a whole ‘nother egg.

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Since learning to make these in culinary school, I have been obsessing about them constantly. I knew that I sounded crazy when talking to my best friend on the phone and ranting and raving about scrambled eggs for ten whole minutes, but I felt compelled to share the knowledge. I’ve made them a half a dozen times since then, usually when I’m home alone and don’t feel like fussing over my lunch. I also made them for Jé recently, and was pleasantly surprised to see that he could feel the magic in them as well.

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So, it’s time to stop freaking out about eggs and finally tell you how to make them. It’s easy. It takes slightly longer than the scramble I used to make because they’re cooked over low heat so that they don’t cook too fast, making them dry and rubbery instead of melt-in-your-mouth, velvety and fantastic. Also, you should forget about your frying pan, and that pesky spatula. Real scrambled eggs are made in a sauteuse, which is basically a cross between a frying pan and a pot (it’s deeper), with graduated sides. Since I’m not fancy enough to have a sauteuse at home, I prefer a small pot to a frying pan. The goal is to get good, even heat but the layer of eggs can’t be so thin that they’ll cook too quickly. You should have at least 1 1/2-2 inches of eggs in whatever recipient you choose to use. Real scrambled eggs are also not randomly pushed around the pan with a spatula. They are mixed constantly with a wooden spoon, or whisked. Take care to mix in the corners of your pot and not just in the middle, or you’ll have some slightly overcooked or even burned eggs!

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Scrambled eggs
For one person, if eaten as part of a meal
3 eggs
1 T butter
1 t heavy cream or crème fraîche (optional)
Herbs to taste (think chives, parsely, chervil or even basil, for example) (optional)

Begin by whisking your eggs together in a small bowl for about one minute, or until no trace of yolk or white remains, but you have a perfectly homogenous mixture. Meanwhile, heat your pot or sauteuse over low heat. Once it’s sufficiently pre-heated, add half of the butter. As soon as the butter melts, add your eggs and begin stirring. Stir constantly and quickly, not forgetting the corners of your pot. Depending on the size of your pan, you should notice that small chunks of cooked egg begin to appear within a minute or so. You do not want the eggs to cook unevenly, so once they start to form you should stir (or whisk) stronger than ever! For three eggs and a very small pot (seen above), the entire process should take about 5-7 minutes. It’ll seem like it’s taking forever, but all the magic happens really quickly at the end. You’ll see more and more small chunks, and once your mixture starts to become more of a solid than a liquid, stir vigorously to homogenize it and take it off of the heat.

Now for the fun: gently stir in the remaining butter, add a pinch of salt and pepper and there you have it! Of course, you can do add-ons. I love a tiny spoonful of crème fraîche and some freshly cut herbs from my garden. I hope you’ll try these eggs, and be just as excited about them as I am.

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One thought on “Culinary school 101: scrambled eggs

  1. Pingback: Buttery, cheesy drop biscuits | à l'américaine

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