How to Scramble an Egg

Scrambled eggs and high drama might seem unlikely companions but eggs respond dramatically to heat and, for cooking moist, light scrambled eggs, it’s best to take advantage of that fact. While we’ve already examined how gentle heat and slow cooking make for the best egg dishes, the fact is very few of us have an extra 45 minutes in the morning to slow-cook our scrambled eggs over a double boiler, gently turning them over from time to time while our families wait adoringly, sipping coffee and exchanging cheery morning banter.

What I’m about to teach you is almost completely counter to everything we’ve examined all ready. Almost.

Eggs respond quickly to the application of heat, their protein molecules locking together to force out moisture from in between. In order to produce a dish of moist scrambled eggs, you want to avoid losing too much of that moisture. In this particular case, you want to cook the eggs quickly but gently. How do you do that? Simple.

Heat your skillet – I use a well-seasoned cast iron pan – over a medium flame until it’s hot enough that a few drops of water will dance crazily across the surface. Add your fat – I generally use olive oil but butter will produce far richer results – and as soon as it’s heated, pour in your egg batter. Once the batter hits the surface, it will start to congeal almost immediately forming a thin, bubbly pancake. Give the pan a tilt or two, and then turn off the flame. Stir the eggs, folding them over themselves a few times. That’s it. You’re done. Immediately transfer the eggs to a waiting plate to prevent them from cooking any further (If you’re worried about the eggs being underdone, don’t. They’ll continue cooking from their residual heat but gently so that by the time you sit down to eat, they’re still creamy but thoroughly cooked through). You’ve created a plate of moist, creamy scrambled eggs.

In this case, rather than exposing the eggs to a slow, gentle heat, you’re relying more on the brief exposure to heat to produce similar results. Part of what makes this work is having all your ingredients prepared before you begin cooking. Add your seasonings – salt, pepper, herbs, or cheeses – before you add the batter to the pan so there’s no fumbling about as your eggs cook away, getting drier by the moment. Have your plate waiting nearby. All in all, your cooking time can be measured literally in seconds.

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