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I'm happiest when the food I make becomes a backdrop to a lively conversation. When I'm not cooking, I'm traveling or dreaming about travel. Come sit with me, and enjoy! Read more here.

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« rugelach: a buttery favorite I can't live without | Main | sunday night chicken: the evolution of a family tradition »

five eggs in a warm pan: where chemistry meets chance

“Scrambled eggs have been made and massacred for as long as people knew about pots and pans, no doubt.” – MFK Fisher.

Scrambled eggs

Whenever I want a simple but satisfying breakfast, I ask Paul to make scrambled eggs. Paul, who on other occasions is happy to play sous chef and wash dishes after a meal, takes over the kitchen like a Troisgros-trained three-star chef and produces – every time – the perfect scrambled eggs: moist, fluffy, and eggy.

He has been testing various methods for scrambling eggs since we were married five years ago. He doesn’t talk much about it and I don’t prod. But the other morning, when he made the single best plate of scrambled eggs I had ever eaten, I knew I had to get to the bottom of it.

So, after breakfast, I finally asked: What inspired his obsession with this dish?

Like a cooking instructor at the front of the class (he can expound on just about anything), he launched into a description of the various egg scrambling methods of Julia Child and MFK Fisher. Some of it I had heard before: Fisher’s recipe takes a half hour and produces wet, dense eggs; Julia’s recipe takes five minutes and produces wet and fluffy eggs.

What I didn't know was that he found a happy medium somewhere in between by accident one morning when he forgot to pre-heat the pan sufficiently so it was only medium-warm instead of sizzling hot. This produced eggs that were still fluffy but also eggy.

As a math major, jazz pianist, and business consultant, Paul has always been obsessed with puzzles and magic. Scrambling eggs, I believe, has an element of each. It blends chemistry with skill and chance to produce -- or not -- the perfect combination of elements.

Paul's Scrambled Eggs

Serves 2

Five eggs
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons whole milk or cream

Separate the yolks in one large bowl and the whites are in another, smaller bowl. Add the milk to the yolk bowl.


Whisk the whites vigorously for 30 – 45 seconds.

Whisk the yolks with the milk. Pour the yolks into the fluffed up whites. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

scrambling eggs

Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and gently heat the pan for 30 seconds on low heat.

Before the butter is entirely melted, pour the egg mixture in. Very gently push the eggs around with a spatula so the egg does not set. Keep stirring the eggs constantly. After a minute or so, the egg touching the pan should be cooked while the egg on the surface should be wet. Immediately serve with warm buttered toast.

scrambled eggs

Reader Comments (6)

oh, how i love a perfectly scrambled egg - and how rare it is to get one! those look fantastic. i've never had the patience for the 30-minute version, but i've also found that cooking over gentle heat is teh way to go.

April 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermichelle

Thanks, Michelle! I've never had the patience for the 30-minute version either. Why wait when you can have the perfect eggs in less than 10?

April 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Mmmmm... these look fantastic. It's always amazed me how something so simple could turn out so wrong when cooked incorrectly.

April 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternorecipes

Norecipes: It's so true! It's one of those dishes that's considered easy but it takes thought and attention to get it right. Thanks for visiting!

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Thanks for a wonderful yet simple recipe for the obsessed. The trick is to get the heat low enough, and to take it off the heat while still wet. I usually heat the pan and cook off the flame, bringing the pan back to the heat only to keep the temperature there. ALso, I like adding butter right at the end, so that it doesnt melt all the way down, but still blends in. And, yes, scrambled eggs is chemistry, maths and music together.

July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSubhorup Dasgupta

Thanks, Subhorup Dasgupta! That's so true about the heat. I'd like to try that method, and I like the idea of butter at the end. Thanks!

July 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

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