How To Scramble the Perfect Egg

Growing up, I didn’t eat a lot of eggs. They were an occasional special meal on weekends, as I recall, but that was in the 1980s, when everyone thought that eating eggs on a regular basis was about as healthy as eating broken glass.

I remember first developing an appetite for eggs as a result of all of the “Early Riser” egg sandwiches I bought on meal exchange in Bard College’s coffee shop, after, well, rising too late for the dining-hall breakfast service. It was during a weekend home from school when my father saw me cooking myself eggs for a sandwich and remarked as to how he didn’t even know I particularly liked eggs. Well, I was starting to, and it was a romance that would only strengthen as time went on.

The eggs on those sandwiches were generally “over, hard” in kitchen parlance, a good way to ease into egg eating but one that didn’t remain all that appealing to me. Eventually, I became mostly a scrambled man.

I never put much thought into how I scrambled my eggs. I just beat them up in a bowl with a little milk, as a girlfriend taught me to do in my early 20s. Then I just poured them in a pan, usually greased with (shudder) Pam cooking spray, and stirred them around until they looked cooked enough to eat.

It turns out I had to move all the way to Montana to learn how to cook scrambled eggs, from Ari LeVaux, who writes the Flash in the Pan column for the local independent weekly paper. I enjoy reading Ari’s column even though I don’t really cook: he always has hints for (to me) exotic stuff like elk sausage, which I like reading about because it reminds me what a strange new place I live in. I have yet to attend a barbecue in Missoula where someone hasn’t broken out something they killed themselves, so it’s always a taste adventure, but also I have yet to shoot anything myself (well, other than some ponderosas with the bad luck to be standing behind my target), so Ari’s kind of cooking tends to be mostly a spectator sport for me.

So you can imagine my excitement when a recent column of Ari’s included a recipe for something I cook all the time, scrambled eggs. Says Ari:

“My favorite way to cook good eggs is the minimal scramble. Heat a medium-sized pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and beat your desired quantity of eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, but before the oil starts to smoke, add your eggs. Watch them spread out flat and sputter. Wait 15 seconds, until the edges start to cook. Then stir it minimally with a spatula, just to make sure there’s no sticking. Wait 10 seconds and do it again. Then kill the heat, stir it one more time, and let the remaining pan heat finish the job.”

As someone whose scrambled eggs often remain on the heat for ten or more minutes, I was dubious, but after a couple of tries at Ari’s approach, I’ll never go back. The “minimal scramble,” as he calls it, results in scrambled eggs that are more like, I don’t know, cuisine, as opposed to simple filler food that gets whipped up out of habit. Ari’s eggs turn out a pale tannish-yellow color, look great on the plate, and taste fantastic. In the past, if we were having a brunch and I wanted to impress with something egg related, I always went with omelets. Now, I’m looking forward to laying some of these eggs on people.

Speaking of laying eggs, Ari’s whole point in recommending this method was in response to a reader’s question about the best way to enjoy the fresh eggs her backyard chickens lay. I have yet to try this method with fresh eggs, but a neighbor put a coop in this summer and the hens should be laying any day now, so I hope I’ll get the chance soon.

Here’s a charming video in which Ari demonstrates his method:

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