Perfect Scrambled Eggs
The truth is that scrambled eggs are easy to make. Unfortunately, they are also easy to make wrong.
At a root level, scrambled eggs are simply beaten eggs which are fried and – for lack of a better word – scrambled. But like most things that are simple, people have found ways to make them needlessly complex.
No cheese. No overt flavorings. Just eggs and what it takes to make them taste and look like great eggs.
What Not To Add
Cottage Cheese – Several recipes I encountered recommended whisking a Tablespoon of small curd cottage cheese in with each egg. Visually, the result was creamy and mildly fluffy scrambled eggs. In terms of taste, the cottage cheese did not contribute or detract from the eggs – but it did make the dish seem somehow impure. You knew there was something in there besides the egg. The aspect of cottage cheese that secured its fate as a stay-out-of-our-scramble ingredient was that no matter how vigorously you whisked the dish had texture irregularities. Every other bite had the unwelcome surprise of a noticeable cottage cheese curd.
Real Cream – I tried two recipes that used real cream. One said to add 1 tablespoon of real cream per egg. The other instructed the use of 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cream per egg. Both recipes created beautiful eggs with a creamy yellow color. Sadly, the resulting flavor was not so beautiful. In both cases the first bite tasted terrific, but the more I ate the more I had to admit that these eggs were just too creamy. The recipe with 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of cream left a slight, unpleasant milky after-taste.
Sour Cream – Scrambled eggs with sour cream cannot be considered scrambled eggs in a purist sense. The sour cream adds a distinct flavor. Therefore, scrambled eggs with sour cream will be saved for mention in a future article on specialty or flavored scrambled eggs.
Baking Powder – Scrambled eggs with a pinch of baking powder per egg had a great appearance. They were fluffy, yet firm. I was surprised to find there was no trace of baking powder taste. Unfortunately, the texture of the scramble in the mouth was uneven with specks of firmer pieces in a single bite.
Sea Salt – When salt is heated it breaks down to the same components regardless whether its table salt or sea salt.
Sugar – Eggs, flour and sugar are the primary ingredients of a great many deserts. Remove the flour and you end up with neither desert nor scrambled eggs – at least not from a purist scramble perspective. What you do end up with is a kind of specialty egg dish that deserves further exploration in the field of breakfast. It’s not fair to call them scrambled eggs, but their sweetness makes them an interesting complement to pancakes and waffles.
What Not To Do
– Don’t beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
– With or without added ingredients like sugar and cream of tartar, the result of scrambling looks like a big dollop of melting Crisco crossed with cottage cheese.
– Don’t stir eggs slowly for an extended period.
– I came across one recipe that actually instructed to stir the eggs in the fry pan (heated at your stove’s lowest setting) with a wooden spoon for 30 minutes. First of all, the eggs didn’t set after 30 minutes at the lowest heat setting. I tried once more at a slightly higher setting. After 10 minutes, the eggs began to show subtle signs of setting. I continued to stir the eggs in the pan for 10 minutes. The result looked more like butternut squash than any eggs I’ve ever seen. The texture was close to chewy and the extended cooking time seemed to have cooked away all the flavor of egg.
Do It Or Don’t – It doesn’t Make a Difference
Keep eggs at room temperature before scrambling – Kitchen tests showed no significant difference between room-temperature and refrigerated eggs from the same carton. Refrigeration actually deters the growth of salmonella enteritis. Even though salmonella is very rare (1 out of every 20,000 eggs may contain the bacteria), it is advised that your eggs always remain stored in the refrigerator.
The Art of Scrambling – Proper Technique
The Best Way To Beat Your Eggs
One of the most important ingredients in scrambled eggs is hardly ever mentioned… air. It would be nice if we could just dollop a Tablespoon of air into the mixing bowl, but for the time-being, incorporating air into beaten eggs requires good old-fashioned elbow grease (or the electric equivalent).
The more you whisk – the more air bubbles become trapped in the shaken and unraveling protein of the eggs. As the eggs cook, protein molecules firm-up around the air bubbles resulting in a spongy texture and hopefully full and fluffy scrambled eggs.
Over-beating will completely unravel the protein molecules and destabilize their ability to form a microscopic casing around the air. In terms of whisking motion, a tilted wheel motion works far better than a vertical stirring motion. A fork works as well as a whisk but requires a slight bit more time and energy.
The Best Way To Scramble In The Pan
The actions you take once the eggs hit the fry pan will dictate the size of the scrambled egg pieces (curds). Some recipes suggest stirring the eggs with a wooden spoon immediately as the eggs hit the heated surface. Others direct you to let the eggs start to set before stirring/scrambling. Of the two, the second method results in larger fluffier pieces.