Kitchen Basics: Scrambled Eggs 1-2-3

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yes we're continuing on the egg thing because it's basic and when done right, delicious. And often times the food we all screw up the easiest. So now that you know how to boil an egg and how to make easy poached eggs, let's learn to make proper scrambled eggs!

Scrambled eggs should be two things: light and fluffy. Light meaning in color (you're going for a consistent pale yellow) and fluffy in reference to the texture. They should always be served piping hot and made absolutely last when doing a breakfast. Remember we talked about this before? Toast first, then eggs.

Often times the simplest thing in the kitchen to make is also the easiest thing to screw up. Either it's because we're not using the proper tools or ingredients, or most often we're not using the proper technique. Scrambled eggs, just like boiling and poaching them, is 100% about getting the technique down. And the good news is not even that is hard; it simply relies on us paying attention when we're cooking.

Scrambled eggs comes down to 3 basic steps:

1. Add heavy cream to your eggs before you beat them.
The addition of heavy cream (not light, not half n half, not milk) will ensure a velvety texture to the eggs and help achieve that perfect pale yellow color we love to see with our scrambled eggs. You don't need a lot -- a splash will do you fine within proportion to the amount of eggs you have (i.e., small splash if you're working with 2-3 eggs, a little bigger splash with 4-6 eggs, an even bigger splash with more eggs, etc.) There is no set amount, but be careful not to go overboard: 1/4 cup of cream to 2 eggs is going overboard; 1 Tbsp is more like it (i.e., a little splash).

2.  Air makes them fluffy, so invest in a good whisk and beat the shit out of the egg-cream mixture!
This is basic science and a big basic concept in the kitchen: air = fluffy. If you just mixed the egg and cream together you'd get a heavier and deflated scrambled egg. But if you use a whisk, which is designed to maximize the amount of air you push into your mixture, you're adding physical volume to your mixture by way of air. Yes, air has body to it. And it's that air that's going to give you the fluffy and puffed up scrambled eggs that will melt in your mouth.
To do this, simply do a up-down motion when whisking. When you whisk around the bowl (like around the diameter of the bowl), you're mixing. Which is great. But to add body and air to the mixture, reach up about 4-5 inches from the bottom of your bowl and push that air down into your mixture, gather up the egg from the bottom of the pan and drag it up and continue this sort of oval-shaped maneuver. This is how you whip a mixture. The whisk is designed to hold on to the mixture and drag it upwards with you to catch the air as you pull back down. Try practicing this motion right now:
  • pretend you have a bowl in front of you and using your dominant hand, pretend to hold a whisk; now move your hand in a circle as if you're mixing something, going clockwise;
  • now hold your hand about 4-5 inches above your "bowl" and drop it down to the bottom of the bowl, then pull it back up -- now you're whisking!
See the difference? That's the movement you're looking for. And the trick now is to do that up-down movement as fast as you can. A trick is to sort of snap your wrist down when you go down, and snap it back up when you pull up. This way you don't kill your arm while whisking. Now do it as fast as you can. Yes, people should be looking at you if you're at work and wondering what you're doing. It's ok -- know you will be a better cook than them now. And when you make your scrambled eggs do this same technique.

3.  Stir and fold your eggs when cooking.
You want to use a nice non-stick pan when doing your scrambled eggs. A properly done scrambled egg with pan doesn't even need oil or butter, believe it or not; but if you want to use those go ahead and add a little. Pour your whipped egg mixture all at once in the pan -- it will create one even layer. Now: taking a sturdy spatula (rubber so we don't destroy our non-stick pan!), start stirring from the middle of the pan, occasionally dragging the outside inward and then stirring again. This technique is keeping the eggs moving, which will prevent one part from cooking faster than the rest, leaving brown spots. It will take about 1-2 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Season as desired and you're done!

Don't worry if you don't get it the first time -- especially the whisking properly part takes some practice. Thankfully eggs are cheap! So get to it and remember to do the toast first!

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