Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

Do you like scrambled eggs? Have you ever noticed that one morning they turn out beautifully: light, fluffy, flavorful....and the next time you make them, they're flat, rubbery and weird-tasting? Maybe you've never had problems with scrambling eggs...on the surface, it seems as though that's one of those basic kitchen skills we were all supposed to pick up from our moms or at least in the obligatory Home Ec class in school. You know, right below boiling water. 

I must admit, this easy-to-prepare dish didn't always turn out perfectly for me. I was, at least, consistent with my inconsistency.

Always in search of better ways to make the foods I prepare at home, I googled "perfect scrambled eggs" one day. Turns out there's more to it than just beating an egg and throwing it in a pan. There's actually some science involved! And, being a homeschooler I was simply delighted to learn that. Of course, now I must share my newly found knowledge with you. I'm sure your breakfast-eaters will appreciate that!

The Science Behind the Scramble

I'd like to thank Mr. Breakfast for enlightening me on the whole scrambled egg deal.  I think most people would agree that  whisking an egg vigorously will incorporate some air into there, which lends to a fluffy scrambled egg. But wait, there's more! Whisking the egg begins to break down and "unravel" the protein molecules, wherein the air you're whisking in gets trapped. Mr. Breakfast explains that "As the eggs cook, protein molecules firm-up around the air bubbles resulting in a spongy texture and hopefully full and fluffy scrambled eggs." And of course, if you overdo the whisking, you'll just completely unravel the protein molecules and there won't be any place for the air bubbles to become entrapped. You end up with flat, rubbery eggs. 

The proper whisking technique is to hold your whisk at an angle instead of vertically. This makes me think of 50's housewives in their pretty dresses, frilly aprons, pearls and heels...I'm not sure why, but it does. 

So, Let's Get Crackin'

Now that you know what's going on in the pan, let's give it a whirl.  First things first...a list of ingredients and equipment you will need:
  • eggs
  • milk
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • bowl
  • whisk or fork
  • pan
As with anything, quality does count. You need some good eggs.  Like some just-laid eggs from your friend's backyard free-ranging, dirt-scratching, bug-eating chickens . Them's some good eggs. I also recommend some fresh-from-the-farm milk. This chicken here just might have laid one of the eggs I used to make these marvelously magnificent scrambled eggs:

I love my friend's chickens. They make me giggle every time I'm around them.  Cluck...cluck...cluck...Check out her blog at The Homesteading Hippy!

Mr. Breakfast also says that, according to the American Egg Board, properly beaten eggs are "frothy and evenly colored." Mr. Breakfast says after about two minutes, your eggs should look like that. If I'm only doing a couple eggs (his recipe is for six eggs), I usually achieve frothy and even-colored eggs in less than two minutes.

And, you've just got to cook in cast iron. Really. I won't cook eggs in anything else. A properly seasoned pan requires very little, if any, butter, oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Plus, there's the added benefit of getting extra iron in your diet, in case fabulous flavor and non-stick cooking don't convince you.  Whatever pan you're using, you need to get it nice and hot before adding the eggs.  Not to where it's smoking, of course...Mr. Breakfast says just above medium.

Martha Stewart, of Course, Makes Perfect Eggs

Ok...pan's hot, eggs are beaten...now what? There are a few schools of thought on the best way to scramble the eggs once they've hit the pan.  Mr. Breakfast included Martha Stewart's method, and I heartily recommend it.  

If you've added butter to your pan (and I do, even with the cast iron because it just tastes so delicious!), let it melt completely then add your beaten eggs...but resist that urge to start scrambling them around in the pan. Let them begin to set first, then take your spatula and from the edges, start pushing the set part in to the middle of the pan, allowing the rest of the eggs to spill out around what you've pushed into the middle. Tilt the skillet if necessary to get the runny part evenly distributed. Continue this until there is no more runny eggs to cook. I like to keep it in one big, fluffy pile but you can break the eggs up into pieces if you like. Continue cooking until they are as done as you like, but don't overcook!  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dig in. Be amazed at the fluffy deliciousness of the eggs you just cooked. Just like Martha Stewart does.

Then, if you're like my son...you'll ruin them with ketchup...but, to each his own. I like Bang Bang sauce on mine, to be honest with you.  Here's a recipe I put on my old blog:  Bang Bang Sauce...I'll Put That on ANYTHING!

1 comment :

  1. You have inspired me to try scrambled eggs in my cast iron. I've never tried that before, as I have my Pampered Chef 14" skillet that I make just about everything in. Your steps and instructions were well explained! Great pictures, too!