29 Jan The History Of Scrambled Eggs
Many months ago, while preparing some breakfast (scrambled eggs), I was thinking that I absolutely did not know how other people cook scrambled eggs. Okay, I understand that some readers think, “Who cares!” But sometimes a thought like that will not go away, and I knew that I’d best do something about it. I did some reading about eggs at breakfast and then read a ton of scrambled egg recipes. In the kitchen I tried recipe after recipe to ‘up my scrambled egg game.’ To be candid, most of the recipes were awful….or was it my execution? I became a driven person, and realized I would have to find my own way.
My goal was to make life changing scrambled eggs: moist, creamy, and fluffy. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months but in the end I reached the Holy Grail. It might sound a little dramatic (yeah, you are probably right) but if you follow my irrefutable rules for making scrambled eggs you may even end up concluding that I understated my result.
A MINOR HISTORY OF SCRAMBLED EGGS
Mankind has used eggs for at least five thousand years. It is known for sure that ostrich eggs were fried by fire in ancient Egypt. The Romans used fried eggs as a dessert with honey. The ancestors of the populace of modern Iran mixed the yolk with milk and spices, and the French, in the middle of the seventeenth century, came to call it an omelet. It was the French who perfected this dish by adding mushrooms, fresh vegetables, and grated cheese. At the beginning of the 19th century, for the working class in England, a plate of fried eggs and a few slices of bacon was an essential part of the English breakfast and a symbol of well being. Even today in England a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon is a mainstay. Residents of Hong Kong prefer a lightly fried egg with a vegetable garnish. Greeks prepare strapatsada (scrambled eggs) with fresh tomatoes, onions, and a piece of feta cheese. The Japanese, true to their love of rice, if there are eggs, they fry them only with rice.
HOW TO COOK SCRAMBLED EGGS
I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need a guide to prepare scrambled eggs? It was the first thing I learned to cook when I was out on my own!” If you just want a plate of scrambled eggs, no. But if you want uniformly golden, soft on the verge of custardy scrambled eggs, then, yes!
Reading dozens of recipes it became clear that all people do not make scrambled eggs the same way and the internet is filled with disagreements that can get a little testy. So I am here to bring light into the world of scrambled eggs. Read on.
Where to Scramble the Eggs
Right from the start we have a controversy. Do you crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble them there before adding them to the pan, or do you crack them directly into the hot pan and then scramble as they cook?
Each approach has its advantages. Scrambling the eggs in a bowl beforehand permits a more rigorous and intense scrambling. This will generate air into the eggs, which will produce fluffier, creamier eggs in the end. This thorough scrambling also means a more complete commingling of white and yolk, which means stability of texture and color in the finished product. Maybe that doesn’t matter to some, but remember we are seeking life changing scrambled eggs.
On the other hand, cracking the eggs into a hot pan and scrambling them is a much quicker way of doing things and easier on your dishwashing.
The answer is self evident, we are seeking the Holy Grail. BEAT YOUR EGGS ENERGETICALLY and for SEVERAL MINUTES.
When to Scramble Your Eggs
Do not scramble your eggs the night before you intend to cook them. The air that you worked so hard to beat into the eggs will exit as they sit (unless you do it all over again and why would you want to repeat work that’s hard….that‘s non-productive). You will want to scramble your eggs immediately before cooking them.
What to Put in Them
There are three timing options for egg additions: before, during, or after cooking. Do you add some milk or cream or a splash of water before beating them to make them more fluffy? Do you add salt and pepper to boost the flavor? Do you throw in a bunch of shredded cheese because you love cheese and the hell with your cholesterol?
I found some game changers here. DO NOT ADD SALT OR PEPPER TO YOUR EGGS BEFORE THEY’RE COOKED. Salt can mess with the texture of the eggs and pepper looks plain unappetizing when it’s cooked into scrambled eggs. Add them later. As for the cheese, add a MODERATE portion of cheese to the eggs as they cook (you only go around once anyway). As for the milk, cream, or water: first and foremost, DO NOT ADD WATER TO YOUR EGGS. Water is water, all it will do is make your eggs wet. Milk? Yes, but be sure it is whole milk (or maybe half and half or even real cream) to add some lightness and creaminess. If you shy away from whole milk, then just whip the eggs vigorously and don’t add it. These are irrefutable maxims. Skim milk is just like water in this situation. It provides nothing but wet.
How to Cook Them
Here is how you cook your scrambled eggs: SLOWLY over LOW HEAT with CONSTANT, GENTLE STIRRING. With this method they will be soft, creamy, and fluffy. Cook them over high heat and they will turn into a hockey puck. Repeat after me: low heat, slow cooking, constant stirring (with a supple spatula). Microwave? Never! I repeat, NEVER!
Some more advice (another rule): the only acceptable answer about what to cook your scrambled eggs in is butter or bacon fat. Don’t even think about canola oil, olive oil, or heaven forbid, grapeseed oil.
When to Stop Cooking Them
Please let’s not get into some foodborne illness controversy. There is no place for it, just follow this dictum: REMOVE YOUR SCRAMBLED EGGS from the HEAT BEFORE THEY FULLY SET. They will continue cooking even after you do so, and if you wait for them until they are perfectly set to remove from the heat, then by the time you serve them they will be like the football Tom Brady threw in deflategate. Instead of a great breakfast (hope you don’t have guests) you will be stuck with a rubbery mess. Do not misunderstand, I am not trying to give you food poisoning. When you remove your eggs from the stove, do not put them directly in your mouth. Just let them set and you’re home free.
How to Eat Them
This is a huge culinary question: what is the right way, the best way, to eat scrambled eggs? Now bear with me here, please let’s not put our scrambled eggs atop some corned beef hash or home fries. That’s for fried eggs (yes, that yolk runneth over). But do not sleep on scrambled eggs – never. The veracious way to eat scrambled eggs is: atop or between slices of buttered toast. It’s up to you: on a single slice of buttered toast or between two buttered slices to make a sandwich. If you go the sandwich way then a slice or two of bacon is appropriate.
Utensils? Remember again, these are irrefutable guides/rules, your scrambled eggs are atop or inside buttered toast. Yes, you can use a utensil to pile scrambled eggs on your buttered toast, but that’s it.
I realize I’m being very rigid in my mission but it’s for a good cause. I am taking you to the promised land: life changing scrambled eggs. Democracy is always the way to go, but sometimes you need to get on board with the program. If not you might end up like George Costanza with no soup.
One more thing: NEVER PUT KETCHUP on SCRAMBLED EGGS. This is a disaster. Why would you ruin all your hard work? There’s definitely a time and a place for ketchup, but not here. Time for a confession. I have eaten scrambled eggs doused with ketchup but under extenuating circumstances. Let me explain.
While in college, and as a member of the cross country and track teams, I competed against the Naval Academy three times per year (for cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track) and always on their home turf in Annapolis. We would arrive the night before the competition, stay at the Academy, and take all our meals there in the mess hall. At breakfast I embraced tradition in a heartbeat, ketchup on your scrambled eggs. All the midshipmen did it, and I found out soon enough why. The eggs were barely edible. Yes, on the hallowed grounds of the Naval Academy the eggs were probably powdered. So over four years, that means twelve plates of scrambled eggs with ketchup. Lord have mercy! Please forgive me, I was hungry. There was nothing else I could do.
Once again NO KETCHUP is an irrefutable rule.