By Becky Krystal
Scrambled eggs are one of the ultimate throw-together meals. Less work than even the easiest poaching, and less fuss than a standard fried.
Still, who hasn’t overcooked scrambled eggs into rubbery unpleasantness? I know I have. Here are a few tips to success, as well as strategies for cooking your eggs exactly the way you want them.
Consider a non-stick pan.
I know, some of you are going to swear you make great scrambled eggs in your well-seasoned cast-iron. And if you do, don’t let me deter you! But for anyone who has struggled with eggs sticking or burning to the pan, non-stick can be a lifesaver. The coating of a non-stick pan provides a smooth surface and separates the food from the metal.
Use a smaller pan.
One of the easiest ways to guard against overcooking is using a smaller pan. My 30cm non-stick pan is great for when I want a very thin omelet for folding on to a sandwich. The greater surface area, though, means it’s all too easy for the eggs to dry out quickly. When you want actual curds (whether dense and creamy or light and fluffy), consider dropping the pan size to 25cm or even 20cm, depending on how many eggs you’re cooking.
From a taste perspective alone, I have found that adding a little more salt than my instincts would tell me has made a marked improvement in flavour. My eggs have gone from blah to, wouldn’t you know, well-seasoned! But there’s another reason salting is important for scrambled eggs: It can actually improve the texture.
Manage the heat.
The biggest danger in scrambled eggs is too much heat, which leads to unappealing textures. But playing around with heat also gives you control over what style of scrambled eggs you want. If you like fluffy curds, you need heat to produce steam and cause the eggs to expand. The key is how much and how long. A combination of high and low heat helps achieve voluminous but still tender eggs – start at medium-high and drop to low once a spatula dragged through the pan left very little raw egg in the trail. For denser eggs with few or almost no curds, work entirely over low heat.
Add fat (or don’t).
Fat is another way to encourage tenderness and interfere with the bonding of proteins. If you’ve always automatically beaten some milk into your eggs without thinking about it, you’re on to something. Even fattier ingredients are possibilities and will lead to denser, creamier results. Consider creme fraiche. Whipped cream is particularly rich as well.
Easier said than done, right? I’ve come across universal advice from a wide variety of sources, which is to remove the eggs from the heat just before you think they’re finished, to let the residual heat do its work. Chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat recommends as long as 30 seconds: “Let your courage carry you, and the eggs, to the finish line.”