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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eggs Were Definitely First!

At one point in his book Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain lists several things that everyone should know how to cook. One of these is the omelet. I couldn’t agree more, but I would add one more item: scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs are deceptively complex. Because of their simple preparation, there is little room for the aspiring chef to hide mistakes. And what is the most frequent mistake made by a home cook? Overcooking. Most folks scramble eggs until they are devoid of any last ounce of moisture or silkiness, leaving dried tasteless clumps better served to the condemned. Simply put, scrambled eggs require a lot more attention than most would think. As M.F.K. Fisher noted: “This concoction is obviously a placid one, never to be attempted by a nervous, harried woman, one anxious to slap something on the table and get it over with.”

Scrambled eggs were one of the first things I learned to cook. In an old family photo album there’s a picture of me, about five years old, standing on a stool over the stove making bacon and eggs one morning. My father took the picture after my mom had left for work, so this little bit of domestic child labor, and its evidence, remained hidden from my mother for many years. When she discovered that my father had permitted me to stand over a frying pan on a hot stove at the tender age of five, she was not amused. I, other hand, thought it was great fun!

So, how do I make scrambled eggs these days? Needless to say I’ve learned a few things since I was five. Here’s how I make them.

The Insouciant Chef’s Scrambled Eggs

Heat a non-stick pan over low-medium heat. (Another mistake a lot of people make in cooking scrambled eggs is cooking them at too high a heat.)

Take two or three eggs and whisk them in a bowl with salt and pepper until the yolk and the whites are thoroughly mixed.

Pour the eggs in the pan but leave them alone! Fight the urge to immediately start stirring stuff around. Once the outer edge of the eggs have started to cook, stir the eggs with a fork (larger tines will give you bigger curds, while smaller ones will give you finer curds) or spatula.

Just when the eggs are coming together but not dried out, remove the pan from the heat and add one to two tablespoons of cream. This stops the eggs from cooking and gives them, well, a creamy texture!


Now back to the omelet. For some reason, the omelet scares the hell out of the home cook. Perhaps it’s the flipping onto the plate that seems so daunting. How else would one explain the endless parade of RonCo-but-wait-there’s-more omelet gadgets advertised late at night during re-runs of I Dream of Jeannie. The omelet is actually a quick and easy meal. And it can be prepared in myriad ways depending on the ingredients one adds. And you certainly don’t need a recipe for making an omelet. I learned everything I needed to know about making an omelet from watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on YouTubeJulia Child Makes an Omelet Jacques Pepin Makes Omelettes

Child & Pepin’s Omelet

Step 1: Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Whisk two or three eggs in a bowl. According to Julia Child, anything more than three eggs and you’ll end up with a tough omelet. The egg yolks and the whites should be thoroughly mixed. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. If you are feeling up to it, add some thyme, parsley, chives, or chervil.

Step 3: Put a tablespoon of butter in the pan and once it has melted and just before it starts to brown, pour in the eggs. 

Step 4: Shake the pan vigorously back and forth toward and away from you. You can also stir the eggs in the middle of the pan with a fork while you shake the pan. The goal is to create small curds. Add any ingredients you wish to add.

Step 5: With a spatula, fold the omelet over onto the other half, then tilt the pan with one hand while grasping the handle. Tap the edge of the pan on the counter and slide the omelet onto the plate.

Step 6: Garnish and eat!

And that’s all there is to it. Two simple, yet classic egg dishes that will impress the lucky person you may be having as a guest for breakfast. There are also few foods as cheap and sustaining as the egg. They even come with their own bio-degradable packaging that keeps for weeks.  The perfect ingredient for the great, simple meal!

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