I'm the king of making foolish promises right before I go to bed. While I used to burn the candle at both ends that happens less and less frequently these days, and by the time I head to bed (at 10 PM) I'm usually pretty tired and not thinking all that clearly. I'm also not much of a morning person, meaning if I need to do something right after I've woken up it's going to be a struggle. Taking these things into account, I don't have a good explanation for why I constantly promise to do things for people in the morning. Case in point: my fiancée, as we're getting ready to go to sleep, asks me if I can make breakfast in the morning. I say yes, the night passes, and all of a sudden it's 7:45, she's about to leave for the office, and I have yet to deliver on my promised meal.
With only 15 minutes to make breakfast, scrambled eggs were definitely the logical choice, particularly as I had some really amazing chives from my CSA that were languishing in a ziplock bag in my fridge. I love eggs, and this dish was an easy reminder that scrambled eggs, when done correctly, can be truly amazing.
For a lot of people scrambled eggs are nothing but a disappointment. Despite their simple nature they can be hard to make, and (perhaps appropriately), if you screw things up your eggs will turn out...well, hard.
The secret to cooking scrambled eggs is low heat: that's it. That's the secret. Eggs need to be treated gently, to be caressed. Throw eggs into a pan that's too hot and they'll seize up into a leathery splotch, and there's absolutely no saving them once that happens. Cook your eggs low and slow though and they'll be amazingly moist, flavorful, and tender. Technique can also help you out quite a bit.
Scrambled Eggs with Chives
Begin by placing a medium-sized frying pan over low heat and adding butter. When the butter has melted, pour the beaten eggs into the pan and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Keep an eye on your pan: cooking eggs properly requires constant supervision, because even ten seconds away from the pan can spell disaster. Using a flexible silicone spatula, move the eggs around a little to see if they have begun to set. As you can see in the picture below, the surface of the eggs is largely liquid, while the edge has begun to set, which is perfect.
Once the eggs have begun to set, gently use the spatula to stir the eggs and loosen them from the bottom of the pan. The idea is for "curds" to form, and when you move the partially-formed ribbons of egg around the uncooked parts will also begin to distribute around the pan. Remember, not all of the egg has to touch the pan in order to cook, so don't worry about trying to get all of the uncooked egg to actually touch the metal. As you can see in the picture below, the eggs have begun to set even more, and things are moving along nicely. When your eggs look like this, it's time to sprinkle the surface with the chives (or other fragrant herbs of choice).
This is the moment when things get tricky: the idea behind this whole procedure is to gently move the egg around, cooking it, while also preventing one side from becoming significantly more cooked than the other. In essence, you don't want your eggs to have two sides like when making an omelette. Scrambled eggs should be like a pile of snow, not a pile of rocks, soft and pillowy, not hard with edges. If you look at the picture below you can see that I screwed things up. The eggs, while not terribly overcooked, have absolutely dried out on the bottom, a result of my not paying attention for a second and accidentally having the burner just a tiny bit hotter than I realized. See that leathery appearance? It looks like an old rancher who smokes unfiltered cigarettes. See the eggs in the bottom left corner though? Perfect.
Scrambled eggs will continue to cook after you take them off the stove, and so it's important to remove them from both the stove and the pan even before you're completely convinced they're done. The reality is that you want them to be just a little bit runny. By the time you eat they'll have firmed up a bit, and they've been cooked enough so that there shouldn't be any bacteria running around in the pan (unless you haven't washed things properly). Sprinkle with some additional herbs, add additional seasoning as desired, and eat right away.
Scrambled Eggs with Chives
Makes 2 servings
Prep time: 4 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes (or less)
Four large eggs
3 tablespoons chives, snipped with scissors into small pieces
1 tablespoon salted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Crack the eggs into a large, nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk using a fork until the yolk and white are incorporated and small bubbles appear on the surface.
2. Place a medium-sized frying pan over low heat, add the butter to the pan, and swirl it around until fully melted. Add the eggs to the pan and swirl until they evenly coat the bottom. Cook on low heat until the egg has just begun to set, which will likely take a minute or two. Sprinkle with salt to taste and season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
3. Using a silicone spatula, gently scrape the bottom of the pan and pull the egg together so that you have formed long ribbons of cooked egg. Gently swirl the pan again if you are concerned that all the egg in the pan is not cooking evenly.
3. Once the egg has largely set and you have formed soft clumps or ribbons, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chives over the surface. Stir again to mix the chives and remove from heat.
4. Plate immediately and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of chives. Serve with toast (if that's your thing).