For nearly three years, I taught a class at the Culinary Institute of America called Breakfast Cookery. It started at 1:30 a.m. Teaching students how to make breakfast this early in the day was challenging enough, but teaching them how to properly scramble an egg? That was something else entirely.
Most people think they know how to scramble an egg, but for truly tender, creamy results, there are a few things you need to learn—key among them is when to remove the eggs from the heat so they’re neither runny nor overcooked and rubbery. You also have to know how to treat the eggs in the pan, since the more attention you give them, the better they’ll be.
What follows are the simple scrambled egg tricks I teach my students. Put them to use and you’ll get soft, creamy results every time, even in the wee hours of the morning.
Don’t Judge an Egg by its Color
The next time you stock up on this fridge staple, keep these points in mind:
• The only difference between white eggs and brown eggs is the breed of hen that produced them; otherwise, they taste the same. This goes for egg yolks, too—their color, which varies based on a hen’s feed, has no impact on quality. For a nutritional boost, you can opt for omega-3 eggs, which come from hens fed a diet rich in heart-healthy flaxseeds.
• Eggs have porous shells, so they lose moisture and absorb odors easily. Store them away from strong-smelling foods, with their wider, rounded end facing up—there’s an air sack on this side that protects against moisture loss.
• Eggs are best consumed within one week, though they can be refrigerated in their carton for up to a month. The freshest eggs come straight from the farm or farmers’ market. To determine the freshness of supermarket eggs, look for the Julian date, a three-digit code near the expiration date that indicates the day of the year the eggs were packed. A carton marked “001” was packed January 1; “365” indicates December 31.
Need to Know
Scramble slowly over low heat. This reduces the risk of browning and overcooking, and gives you more control over the eggs’ consistency.
Stir, stir, stir. Egg proteins coagulate into curds as they cook. Constant stirring, while gently shaking the pan, breaks down these curds so they’re smaller, softer, and creamier. If you stir just once or twice, you’ll get large egg clumps that have a firmer, “meatier” texture and a rubbery mouth-feel.
Move cooked eggs from the outside of the pan towards the center. Pans are often hotter around the edge. Stirring the cooked portion to the middle and the raw portion to the outside evenly scrambles the eggs.
Cook the eggs until barely set, “barely” being the operative word. The eggs will continue to cook with residual heat even after they’re removed from the pan (this is known as carryover cooking). Pull them off the heat when they still look wet but not runny.
Use chopsticks to stir your eggs. Not only are they gentle on nonstick surfaces, they’re also excellent at breaking the eggs into small curds. If you don’t have chopsticks on hand, use a heatproof silicone spatula or a wooden spoon instead.