Eggspert Advice, Part IIby Lauren Braun Costello
Last week I gave an overview of eggs in Eggspert Advice: Part I. This week I would like to share some specific techniques for scrambling eggs and making omelets. Even though scrambled eggs and omelets are probably the two most common ways we prepare eggs, so many people do not actually follow the proper methods. The following techniques will make fluffy, tender and tasty eggs.
The Scramble Preamble
Scrambling eggs is so simple--perhaps too simple, and therefore often overlooked as an invaluable skill to master. This point was made clear to me in culinary school when a chef instructor reminded my class that when he was a young cook in France, he and his colleagues were often asked to demonstrate their competence in an interview by making oeufs brouillés (scrambled eggs) or roast chicken. The basics are so very important and should not be forgotten.
To scramble two eggs, break two eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon heavy cream or milk to make the eggs more tender (adding this dairy dilutes the protein). Mix with a fork, but do not overbeat the eggs; the goal is to combine them thoroughly, not to incorporate air. Heat one teaspoon butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot and the butter begins to bubble, pour the eggs into the pan and lower the heat. Cook the eggs, stirring constantly, until the eggs are soft, thick and creamy. Do not overcook the eggs so they are dry and tough. Scrambled eggs should be moist, even when well done.
Scrambled Eggs Are Omelets Too
The French prefer their omelets rolled, as opposed to flat, and generally should have a completely smooth, unbrowned surface while being slightly runny in the middle. In my opinion, this is the very best way to make an omelet. Unlike scrambled eggs, the egg mixture for an omelet generally has no added dairy. But you certainly can add cream or milk, if you like. Just remember to cook omelets to order; they cannot be held successfully.
To make a rolled omelet, break three eggs into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well with a fork. Heat a non-stick 8-inch skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter foams, add the eggs and let the mixture set for about 30 seconds. Then stir continuously with a fork (ideally wooden, if you have one) until the eggs are at a runny scramble stage. Spread the eggs out evenly over the surface of the pan, stop stirring and let them set over low heat (The point at which you stop stirring is the key to having a smooth omelet without any brown coloring).
Place 1/4 cup of filling--cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, ham, caramelized onions--in the middle of the omelet. Fold the edge of the omelet over into itself, tilt the pan from the handle and lightly tap the handle so that the omelet moves up from the pan. Form the omelet with a fork. Roll the omelet onto a warm plate seam-side down.
Eggspert Advice Part 3?
Is there another egg topic you want to read more about on CDKitchen.com? Are there any questions you have about eggs in general that I have not yet addressed? Use the comment form below to let me know!
related recipes6 comments
also, how do you get perfect hard boiled eggs? about half the time mine end up with the green around the yolks.
Comment posted by mona
I'd really like to learn more about how eggs chemically affect foods. Like, when you omit them from something why it might work in some cases, and in other recipes it won't work because you need the egg (and if so can you substitute anything for them).
Comment posted by Mona
Dear Mona, A common problem is the green ring around the yolk. There are two ways to avoid it, but both require precision in timing (so use the aptly named egg timer). The first method: Cover the egg(s) with cold water in a small pot. Bring to a rapid boil, and immediately reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for exactly 10 minutes. The second method: Cover the egg(s) with cold water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and then immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and remove entirely from the heat. Let the eggs sit for exactly 15 minutes, then remove from the water. In both cases, you will want to rinse the eggs in cold water before peeling to avoid burning your hands. You will have PERFECT hard-boiled eggs without any trace of a green ring. The yolks will be tender and bright yellow. Happy Cooking! Chef Lauren
Comment posted by The Competent Cook
I've seen instructions for coddling an egg. What in the world do you do with the egg once it's coddled? Do you eat it like that (and isn't that basically the same as a poached egg then?) or is it a prep method for using it in something else? And why would you coddle it over some other cooking method? Sorry for so many questions about this - but I've never found anyone to answer it for me!
Comment posted by Confused Cook
I'd love to hear about more ways to cook eggs if you are going to do another egg article. Like poaching - why are you supposed to put vinegar in the water? How do you make a good hard fried egg (so the yolk is firm and the whites aren't too chewy)? Or for that matter, how to make a nice soft fried egg so the yolk is HOT and the whites aren't overdone? (my yolks seem to be cold still but the whites are fried to a crisp). Just some other ways of cooking eggs would really be interesting (I loved the omelet/scrambled info - very helpful and I've already started using your tips!)
Comment posted by Kris
Thanks to all the loyal readers on cdkitchen.com. I so appreciate reading all your excellent and thoughtful cooking questions. I will write a column, to appear after Labor Day, about poaching, coddling, and the chemistry of eggs. These are all important topics to explore. Thank you, Competent Cooks!
Comment posted by The Competent Cook
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