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Best Scrambled Eggs: 2011 and beyond


Chris Amirault
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It's been a while since we had an exhaustive scrambled eggs topic, and a lot of us have new tools and toys for the enterprise. I've yet to try any SV scrambled eggs, though that's likely for later this week. However, I have been using an immersion blender regularly: at first I thought it was swatting a fly with a cannon, but the thorough mixing and aeration seems to produce a significantly better product. Ditto using plenty of butter, not surprisingly.

So the go-to method these days is simple, and aims to produce small-curd, moist eggs:

0. Prepare whatever else you're making, including toast, and keep it warm.

1. Put a pan on the stove on low-to-medium heat.

2. Blend 4-6 eggs with a couple ounces of water, salt, and pepper.

3. Throw a knob of butter (maybe two ounces?) into the pan and let it melt.

4. Add the eggs all at once and immediately begin stirring the bottom of the pan with a spatula, stopping only when you're done.

I'm sure there's room for improvement and variation there, and therefore debate. After all, we're talking about scrambled eggs here.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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An article posted a couple days ago on how nathanm makes scrambled eggs. I'm hoping to try it within a week or two.

In the mean time, I make my eggs similarly to you, but I make them 2-4 eggs at a time depending on if I'm cooking for just myself or myself and my partner. I always use a non-stick skillet and blend with a fork (I've never considered my stick blender, but will have to try it), but my real secret is using a high quality cultured butter which has a natural cheesy flavor. I also find it imperative to remove the eggs from the pan about 10-15 seconds before they are done or they will overcook.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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Many decades ago, I saw Julia demonstrate how to perfectly scramble eggs, and that's how I've done it ever since.

A few pointers from her - don't over beat the eggs. Beat just until the yolks are incorporated.

And although you can add seasonings/herbs at the beginning, don't add any additional liquid then whatsoever. Not water. Not milk. Not cream.

When the eggs are just about done (around the time Andrew says to remove the eggs from heat) that's when you pour in your cream and thoroughly incorporate it. It gathers up the yucky bits, and turns the whole dish into moist and creamy, but thoroughly cooked, soft mounds of perfection.

It does require a lot of discipline to not give into the temptation to stir in something - water, milk, cream, etc. - at the beginning but, according to Saint Julia, that is absolutely not the way to do it.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I went the St. Julia route for years, too, but I now routinely ignore this:

A few pointers from her - don't over beat the eggs. Beat just until the yolks are incorporated.

What's the rationale behind not "overbeating" the eggs? It feels like lore grounded more in gluten than in protein, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I went the St. Julia route for years, too, but I now routinely ignore this:

A few pointers from her - don't over beat the eggs. Beat just until the yolks are incorporated.

What's the rationale behind not "overbeating" the eggs? It feels like lore grounded more in gluten than in protein, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Honestly, I don't know. I'm sure she gave a reason somewhere, but I basically just took her word for it.

I do know that adding that bit of cream at the end, rather than the beginning, makes for worlds of difference. So I suppose I just decided that she must know what she's talking about, and to do it her way.

Just to add..

I don't have my copy of Larousse Gastronomique to double-check, but I believe I recall the 'scrambled egg' entry to state that it's a dish of eggs that you stir while cooking and "finish with cream."

Escoffier says that when your eggs are just about done, to remove from heat and add a bit of "cream and butter."

Huge difference from adding water or milk/cream at the beginning. I always set my little carton of cream (or can of evap milk if we're dieting) right by the skillet, so it's ready to go in at that perfect penultimate minute when the eggs are almost set, but not quite.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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An article posted a couple days ago on how nathanm makes scrambled eggs. I'm hoping to try it within a week or two.

I made scrambled eggs like this (2 whole eggs plus one egg) three or four times now. I haven't done them sous vide yet - just very slowly and constantly stirring in a pan over low heat. Sometimes with cheese, sometimes without; usually with a bit of milk added in. The real trick is to keep the heat low enough and have enough patience - they will come together eventually. Just keep stirring and take them out of the pan just when you start to see them drying out/solidify. A night-and-day difference with my old high-heat, fast cooking approach; I won't be going back!

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I like the idea of adding cream at the end rather than the start. Makes a lot of sense which is probably why it never occurred to me.

My parents always added water to scrambled eggs. I did the same until I upgraded to cream. I am now wondering about the purpose of the water - does it improve scrambled eggs or was it, perhaps, a depression era technique used to extend the dish a bit?

A significant reasearch study supports Nero Wolfe's contention that eggs must be scrambled for forty minutes.

"Do you like eggs?"

She laughed. She looked at me, so I laughed too.

Wolfe scowled. "Confound it, are eggs comical? Do you know how to scramble eggs, Mrs. Valdon?"

"Yes, of course."

"To use Mr. Goodwin's favorite locution, one will get you ten that you don't. I'll scramble eggs for your breakfast and we'll see. Tell me forty minutes before you're ready."

Her eyes widened. "Forty minutes?"

"Yes. I knew you didn't know."

~ The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

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I've made SV scrambled eggs twice this week. Once at 75C, which was a bit too loose, or custard-y, for our tastes. They tasted good, but the texture was not what we wanted for breakfast. I tried again yesterday at 77C and they seemed a bit too firm/overcooked.

So I guess the next attempt will be at 76C and see what happens.

I read the article from nathanm linked above. It says he cooks his at 164F/74C. This may be one of those things where you just need to find the temp that works for the texture you like best.

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I use the double-boiler method.

Simmering pot of water, pyrex bowl on top, eggs.

You have to whisk the eggs constantly. Takes about half an hour ... probably 20 minutes too long for most people. But the method is fool proof.

4980721573_45b9232e70.jpg

Scrambled eggs, with crème fraiche, lobster and lobster roe.

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I went the St. Julia route for years, too, but I now routinely ignore this:

A few pointers from her - don't over beat the eggs. Beat just until the yolks are incorporated.

What's the rationale behind not "overbeating" the eggs? It feels like lore grounded more in gluten than in protein, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Honestly, I don't know. I'm sure she gave a reason somewhere, but I basically just took her word for it.

St. Jacques is, reportedly, the same way. There's an anecdote about him berating a sous chef once for beating the eggs to death.

And if you're anal retentive, America's Test Kitchen has determined beating the eggs with 80 strokes of a fork/whisk is just right. :huh:

I think it's odd to add water to the eggs when milk/cream seems more, well, natural. I think there's something about the proteins in the milk and the eggs that make the scrambled eggs softer to the palate.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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I do them a la Ideas in Food. I think its 163.5F for 25 minutes SV, then run through an isi with 2 charges.

Its more of a scrambled egg sauce/foam thats great for putting on cheese and toast but its pretty awesome.

Mike

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I've done scrambled sous-vide a few times the past few weeks. I've tried temperatures from 158F to 163F, and have had better results with the higher temperature. The first recipe I tried said to use 2 eggs & mush the bag after 10 minutes, and go another 15. I did, but It seemed to just break up an almost set mass. The second time I didn't, and had the result was a nice fluffy pillow of egg. The next time I did 4 eggs. Definitely should have mushed it, because at 30 minutes, the center of the mix was not set at all. A repeat with mushing worked, but left the final egg mass a bunch of large clumps. Next time, 3 eggs, 163 (+/- 2 degrees w. my controller), 35 minutes, no mushing. Produced perfectly light pillows that sat nicely on toasted English muffins. A little bland, so I will probably put a dash of cayenne in next time.

As far as how much the eggs get mixed, neither my wife or children ever tolerated any specks of whites, and because scrambled eggs are one of the things my wife mostly does, scrambled at our house are always mixed until the white and yolk are completely blended.

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I've tried blending the eggs, and I think they come out too spongy, so I beat with a fork or a whisk, depending on how many eggs there are.

I like making them in a cast iron pan and just before they're done, I turn off the heat and let them cook on the reserved heat until the desired texture is reached. My wife likes them softer than I do.

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I've always heard that adding salt to the beaten eggs makes the end result tougher, and that you should salt after they're mostly cooked.

We usually make them pretty runny and soft in our house - very low heat and long cooking time.

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I've always heard that adding salt to the beaten eggs makes the end result tougher, and that you should salt after they're mostly cooked.

A while back I read an article about a thorough testing of this notion (Cook's Illustrated?), which thoroughly debunked it. Ever since then I've added salt before cooking, with no untoward effects.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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I like the idea of adding cream at the end rather than the start. Makes a lot of sense which is probably why it never occurred to me.

Interestingly enough, it requires a great deal of self-control. Despite the fact that most "experts" say that's what you should do, it's extremely hard not to just beat some into the eggs before you begin to cook.

But once you get the hang of it the other way, you'll never go back. The difference is amazing.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I put the eggs in a saucepan with lots of butter, turn the heat on low, put the pan on, whisk until combined, then whisk them as they slowly cook. Sometimes I take the pot off the heat if I think its getting too hot. Off heat, I whisk in some cream to slow down the cooking a bit (cold cream), season, then promptly plate (I like them runny).

I always assumed people added milk or water at the beginning as a tenderizer for those who cook their eggs mostly through or for those who want to give themselves a larger margin for error so as not to overcook. Merely an assumption though.

nunc est bibendum...

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I've always heard that adding salt to the beaten eggs makes the end result tougher, and that you should salt after they're mostly cooked.

A while back I read an article about a thorough testing of this notion (Cook's Illustrated?), which thoroughly debunked it. Ever since then I've added salt before cooking, with no untoward effects.

I like salting at the end so I can taste the seasoning of the final product. I've added it at the beginning with no untoward effects. After all, I like them a bit loose, so they're not likely to get tough unless I overcook them.

nunc est bibendum...

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It's crazy how eG makes me kill an hour looking for the name of a NYC restaurant in the 1950's that regularly served Audrey Hepburn, Peter Lawford and friends scrambled eggs at 3am.

When the Matriarch of this place died, it eventually closed. The NYT magazine ran an anniversary article at some point and that scrambled eggs recipe made it in.

I remember a double boiler, 1/4lb butter, 10 eggs, constant whisking for 25 minutes, cream, caviar garnish, maybe. My date at the time (now my wife) made it all that winter, and occasionally make it late at night for auld tymes sake.

Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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I've heard that milk makes eggs tender, and water makes them tough, so I add just a smidge of milk or cream. Anyone else ever hear this? Growing up my dad always added water at the beginning, and then cooked the eggs very fast in brown butter. Not bad, but not tender, either.

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I'm one of those (apparently few) people who consider French-style scrambled eggs to be an abomination. I greatly prefer American diner-style scrambled eggs, which is nice for me since they take about 1/10 the time!

Medium-hot pan

Lightly-beaten eggs (so the result has some variation in color -- i.e., there's a bit of white still there) + a dash of cream

Melt butter, pour in eggs, fold them over every few seconds, but don't stir the heck out of them. Break them up a bit now and then.

Alternately:

Melt butter in a medium-hot pan

Crack an egg or two into the pan

Break up yolk and stir together w/ silicone spatula

stir in a little cream before it all solidifies

After this heresy, it will probably not surprise anyone too much that I think scrambled eggs should be served with a bit of ketchup. :)

--chuck

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After this heresy, it will probably not surprise anyone too much that I think scrambled eggs should be served with a bit of ketchup. :)

--chuck

So as not to be too much of a heretic, I add 2 drops of habanero sauce to the ketchup. Still, as I did this my wife once told the kids "Dads weird..."

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So as not to be too much of a heretic, I add 2 drops of habanero sauce to the ketchup. Still, as I did this my wife once told the kids "Dads weird..."

I don't do ketchup with egg but hot sauce is definitely the holy grail of egg additions for me. I remember dad spiking my scrambled eggs with tabasco sauce when I was barely old enough to feed myself. As for technique, as long as they end up on the soft side, I don't really care how they get there. I usually melt butter, whisk a little of it into the eggs with salt and cook them on low heat until they're almost where I want them. Then I toss in a little cream and get them off the heat. Not diet eggs but I don't eat eggs very often anyway.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I like lo heat. Lots of stirring. Yields smaller, creamier curds. I've even done double boiler method. That yields really small curds. Takes longer, though. Would be a good method if you wanted to fill something (like an empty egg shell) with softly scrambled eggs.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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