Chef Notes: Cooking the Perfect Eggs

Chef Notes: Cooking the Perfect Eggs

When my fiance Al told me that his mother was making breakfast for us after his triathlon, I secretly hoped she was making eggs. My future mother-in-law makes perfectly scrambled eggs. It took me years to figure out the secret to scrambled eggs. Eggs can be intimidating. They’re easy to screw up and so many ways to cook them. In fact, the number of folds on a toque blanche (white chef’s hat) are said to signify the number of ways to cook eggs. And often, when a chef is interviewing, he’ll be asked to cook an egg as a bench test, a testament to the fact that cooking an egg is not as easy as it sounds. 













I kept an eye on Adie as she cooked those eggs and our methods are very similar. Start by whisking your eggs.  I use two large eggs per person. Break them into a bowl and mix with a fork or whisk until blended.  Many people will add water, milk, or cream to their eggs. I do not and you are taught not to. For one thing, it’s really not necessary. If cooked properly, eggs will have a creamy texture.  Also, once cooked the liquid will begin to separate from the eggs as they cool. Just leave it out. Trust me.

Next prepare your pan. Eggs should be cooked in either a skillet or sauté pan, a wide, shallow pan with either flared or straight sides. You’ll also need a lid or cover. Warm your pan over medium heat.  You don’t want the eggs to cook too fast. Once the pan is warm, add a small amount of oil. If using a nonstick pan the fat is optional. Otherwise, you need a bit of oil to prevent sticking. It can also add flavor, so be adventurous. Eggs take on flavors well so if you use a flavorful oil you can add subtle depth to your eggs. I love to use a few drops of sesame or pistachio oil. My grandmother always used butter or bacon renderings. Turn and tilt the pan to get good coverage. The oil should lightly cover the bottom of the pan. As soon as the oil is spread out, pour in your eggs. Your heat level is right if you hear a slight “sautéing”sound. If the sound is loud or your eggs start to bubble up immediately you have your heat too high. Remove your pan immediately, while stirring constantly, turn the burner down and return the eggs after it’s cooled off a bit. Keep the eggs moving with either a wooden spoon (my favorite) or spatula. You don’t want to stir them so much that they break up into tiny pieces but you don’t want them to look like chunks of omelet either. Just keep them moving and keep scrapping the bottom. When they are almost done (mostly cooked but still some liquidity) add your salt and pepper to taste. This is also when you might want to stir in some finely chopped herbs, totally optional but a nice change. Then remove from heat and cover while you move them to the table or grab your plate. You want your eggs to finish in the pan, off the heat.  Perfectly scrambled eggs are soft with a creamy texture, not slimy and undercooked mind you but not dry and crumbly. It takes a little practice and good timing. Remember, you can always put them back on the heat for a few seconds but you cannot undo an over cooked egg.


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