Scrambled Eggs… Like a Chef

In Eat, February 2021 by Bobby McFarlandLeave a Comment

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If you ask me what my favorite thing to cook is, you’ll launch me on a two-minute diatribe that boils down to “I don’t know” and “it depends.” If you ask my girlfriend, she’ll say—without flinching—scrambled eggs. I have to say, it hurts my feelings a little bit. I’ve spent days prepping a single meal—rolling stocks, fermenting doughs, curing meats—but with Lizzo-like confidence, she always says “scrambled eggs.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love making scrambled eggs. And while no two batches ever come out the same, I always follow the same creative process when I make them. The result looks more like a colorful stir-fry with greens, leftovers and veggies. Scrambled eggs, done this way, are an excellent way to clear out your fridge, reduce food waste and consume a healthy serving of veggies to start your day off with a win.

Choose Direction and Gather Ingredients

Before you can start cooking, you need to look in the fridge; assess your ingredients; and pull everything you want to use onto the counter. Since there’s a lot of simultaneous cooking and cutting about to happen, I line everything up behind my cutting board so I don’t forget about anything. For my scrambled egg process, ingredients fall into five categories: eggs, dairy tenderizers, seasonings, chopped mix-ins (chunkies) and, of course, cheese.

Two or three eggs per person recommended.

Dairy Tenderizers
There’s a lot of debate online about whether to add milk, half-and-half, heavy cream, sour cream or cream cheese to scrambled eggs. Since all of these options work to the same effect, I say use whatever you have—life’s too short to be a zealot.

Seasonings are mixed directly into the eggs. The seasonings you choose largely dictate the overall flavor profile of your final dish, so be creative and choose wisely. For example, if I found two slices of prosciutto and a half-finished jar of artichokes, I might reach for pesto. If I’m working with leftover taco meat, peppers and onions, I might reach for hot sauce and chopped scallions and/or cilantro.

In my opinion, the chunkies turn normal scrambled eggs—which I consider a side dish—into a full nutritious meal. Look for leftover roasted veggies, the pack of deli meat that isn’t quite enough to make a sandwich or the three baby carrots in the bag that somehow made it to the bottom of the drawer.

Use what you like, and your eggs will taste better.

Bringing It Together

Treat your eggs.
Conventional culinary wisdom says salting eggs before cooking them makes them watery, but food writer and personal hero of mine J. Kenji López-Alt proved the opposite in a series of side-by-side tests. If you have time to mix your eggs with salt and your selected dairy and seasonings 30 minutes before cooking them, your final dish will benefit. That said, any amount of time will help their overall texture, so before you do anything, mix up and flavor your eggs.

I check the eggs seasoning by tasting a tiny bit raw on the back of a fork or spoon. Since I’m comfortable eating raw eggs (as they exist in mayonnaise), I’m OK with tasting my eggs raw. If that grosses you out, use about 1/4 teaspoon of salt per egg, depending on how much salt is in your other add-ins.

Cut and saute chunkies.
If you’re cooking for one or two people, heat a 10-inch nonstick saute pan or well-seasoned cast-iron or carbon steel pan and add butter or oil (unless you’re using bacon, which will produce plenty of fat on its own). Starting with what needs to cook the longest or what you want to brown the most, cut ingredients into bite-size pieces and add them directly to the pan, sauteing over medium-high heat.

Cook in eggs and plate.
Choose your serving plates or bowls, and line them up for easy plating when the time comes.

Add eggs to the hot pan and stir slowly for about 30 seconds until a spatula dragged across the bottom leaves a line across the pan. Then add the cheese and stir until the eggs are almost cooked through (but still a little runny) and plate. The eggs will continue to cook for a short amount of time once they’re out of the pan.

In this series, local chef Bobby McFarland offers tips on how to cook like the pros. Currently the lead culinary consultant at The Kitchen Raleigh, McFarland loves eating pomegranate, cheese and all things pork.

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