Scrambled eggs

I just want to say a word about scrambled eggs tonight. When I was growing up, I thought all scrambled eggs had a slightly green tinge to them. I thought this was natural and that’s why I didn’t particularly take to them. This, of course, was because my mother was making them. This is so sad, but when I went to church camp they served us powdered eggs and I thought they were darn delicious. There are many instances in my childhood involving food that took years to get over.

On the flip side, my dad used to make us fried egg sandwiches with bacon every once in awhile. My dad was a terrific cook, but he had a heart attack when I was four and he never got to eat the good stuff again. So he lived through Louise and me. His fried eggs had slightly runny yolks and were cooked in the grease from the bacon. As daddy would say, Man, oh, man! So I at least had the intuition that something about eggs could be good. Later on, I discovered poached eggs, which is still my favorite way to eat them. I love the yolk running over the buttered toast underneath them. Add a little hollandaise and, also as my dad would say, Boy Howdy! What do “man, oh, man” and “boy howdy” mean, anyway? I have no idea, but I digress.

Somewhere along the way, I figured out how to scramble an egg properly. Probably from Julia. My mother could watch Julia Child all day long on PBS and just laugh her head off but she never actually picked up any cooking techniques. I consider a properly scrambled egg almost an art form. You take something perfect and elemental – the egg. And you treat this fragile thing, that some poor hen has sat around worrying about for I don’t know how long before it ends up in her nest, with respect. I always picture hens sitting in nests, although, sadly, I know that’s not the case (well, it is with my eggs because they come from an organic farm).

So here you go. Break your eggs into a bowl and beat them with a whisk until they’re beautifully golden. Figure two eggs per person with one for the pan. Heat up a non-stick skillet (this is one application where cast iron is not encouraged) and add a goodly amount of butter. For six eggs, I’d say a quarter of a stick. No substitution on the butter. Let the butter melt and then add in the eggs. Do all of this over low to medium heat. Salt and pepper them (this whole thing about salt making eggs tough in the pan is just a bunch of hooey).

The eggs will start to set. Get a spatula (or spatular, as we say in the South) and start moving the curds around the pan. Slowly, slowly, the curds will get thicker and you’ll have less and less of runny egg. Now, here’s the thing. When you have just a bit of runny egg left, turn off the heat. The residual heat in the pan will finish cooking the eggs. You want them to be soft and luscious and not green in any way.

Here’s the other trick. Make sure everyone’s ready to eat. There’s nothing worse than cold eggs. As I say way too often to the annoyance of Mark and Noah, “It won’t get any better than it is right now.”

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