A Dissertation on the Scrambled Egg

Keep it low, slow and cheesy

 


I’m a breakfast guy. I love the idea of breakfast almost as much as the food itself. I find nothing so pleasurable as waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning with all the time in the world to put together a morning spread with a fresh cup of coffee and a weekend paper. More than anything (and more so when the night before ended in one too many cocktails or glasses of wine), I love having the time to make a big, cheesy pan of scrambled eggs.

At the same time, I’m constantly surprised how many people, when doing it themselves, mess this up, turning out bland, dry offerings that gets away from the heart of what scrambled eggs should be: soft and gooey with cheese. With that in mind, consider this my dissertation on the scrambled egg.
At its bare essentials, scrambled eggs are a whisked up mixture of eggs and milk, but myself (and I clearly do not claim to speak for everyone), I find scrambled eggs without cheese to be unacceptable, like French toast without cinnamon sugar. Feel free to disagree, but don’t think I’ll listen.

Take, for example, the classic morning scramble: sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese scrambled eggs. When waking up, be it slightly bleary eyed or caffeinated and chipper, I go to my stable of classic ingredients: a carton of eggs, a carton of milk, a package of shredded sharp cheddar or, when feeling ambitious, a block of cheese with shredder handy, and the secret ingredient: Texas Pete Green Pepper Sauce.

Heat the pan gently, using a nonstick or cast iron skillet and your nonstick substance of choice. An easy way to ruin eggs is to cook them too fast, so I opt for about 1/3 heat. Many people, my mother included, pre-mix their scrambled eggs in a mixing or measuring bowl, but on such low heat, this is an unnecessary dirtying of a dish, though I do pre-scramble if I’m making more than six eggs at a time. Start by pouring one healthy dash of milk per egg (my measurements are, to say the least, imprecise, and with breakfast that’s the point). After this, crack the eggs and scramble with your weapon of choice. I usually go with a wooden ladle. Next, throw in a big, healthy pinch of shredded sharp cheddar for every egg scrambled. Again, the measurements are imprecise, and I prefer to err on the side of caution, i.e., more cheese.

Now we wait. Great eggs take time. More time than you think you need. Because this is happening on such low heat, it may seem excruciatingly long, but as a rule, if it feels like it’s taking too long, you’re probably right on time. Stir every twenty seconds or so with the ladle, and the closer the eggs get to finishing, the more I stir. Once they get to the halfway point, it’s time for the sort of secret ingredient - pepper sauce. I’ve found that a few healthy dashes of green pepper sauce really brings out the flavor of the eggs and adds a good zest without adding any spice that will take away from the flavor or texture. Again, it’s an inexact science, but use your judgment.

While our eggs cook, let me take a minute to explain where most people go wrong with scrambled eggs. They cook on high heat, finishing the eggs before they have the chance to take on any flavor, and this also tends to dry them out. Many people also operate under the misconception that you should salt the eggs before or during the cooking process. Again, this also dries them out, and I can think of few things that throw my day off more than dry eggs. Many times people also put in too little milk or too little cheese. These additions bring a lot to the dish, and though they generally increase the cooking time, I consider them essential.
Basic rule of thumb - treat breakfast with respect and, like your significant other, give it the time it deserves. That means paying attention to the dish and not letting it get lost in the cacophony of other breakfast sides. For me, scrambled eggs are often a meal unto itself and more often than not, the main attraction.

When finished, drain the eggs. That may seem weird, but don’t be shy. They should be creamy but not too heavy. Most importantly, they should be delicious.

For me, cheddar cheese is the go-to option for morning scrambles. I eat cheddar scrambled eggs alone. I cook them for groups. Sometimes I cook them for dinner. But keep in mind that many other options exist, and it’s easier than you think to class scrambled eggs up a bit. I’ve had great success with bacon and Brie scrambled eggs, and I distinctly remember using pesto and Parmesan to dress up breakfast for a few morning-after dates. Feta works okay. Goat cheese works fantastic. A little tapenade eliminates the need for salt after cooking. I’ve even had success with crab meat and cheese scrambled eggs.

I’m sure many of you have ideas to share on the art of innovative breakfasting. I’d love to hear your thoughts on outside the box scrambled eggs, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no dish is too simple or too commonplace to take for granted, especially something as significant as Saturday morning breakfast.

Tell us: How do you like your scrambled eggs? With cheese or without? Share your best techniques with us below!


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Comments

  • You left out the very best complement for eggs: Lobster! Next time lobster is on the dinner menu, save a bit of claw or tail meat for breakfast the next day. Forget the cheese; while the eggs are cooking, shred some lobster into tiny pieces and and mix into the eggs. Just a little bit is needed to suffuse the eggs with flavor. Your tongue will be visiting Valhalla, I promise.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 1:29 PM


  • Snooth User: jomarch
    55826 0

    I like my scrambled eggs with butter, salt and black pepper only..no milk, (it's the way my grandma made them). I start with butter on medium-low heat and add unbeaten eggs. Let them set slightly, turn heat to low, then scramble gently. Add salt and pepper. I like to see the contrasting colors of the yolk and white, and the simple purity of minimal ingredients, but that's just me!

    Jul 29, 2011 at 1:43 PM


  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 6,353

    Good call on giving eggs the attention they deserve. They're often a focal point of my breakfast, but I've never really thought about it too much.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:00 PM


  • In place of milk try half and half cream and for those that like a little additional zip add a few, repeat few, red pepper chili flakes

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM


  • Snooth User: Kyle Graynor
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    455797 7,445

    When I make scrambled eggs, I usually use a bit of water instead of milk, to make them more fluffy (I've used milk before, but I usually go for water for some reason, probably a bad reason). I never used to add cheese to my eggs - only about 6-7 scrambled eggs, more dry than they should be, and that would be my brunch. One day I tried cheese. From that moment on, dry eggs were not an option. The wet, gooey eggs trumped those dry ones any day. I usually go with mozzarella cheese (my favorite)

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:16 PM


  • I've been onto this slow egg-cooking business since I was 13 or 14 years old, but I never really evangelized much. I'm more obsessive and stir every 5-10 seconds - can't take my eye off the ball!

    There are few things I hate more than eating dry scrambled eggs with burn marks. Even greasy little spoons shouldn't be getting away with this, but I suppose it's more difficult when you're cooking for 100 people.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:22 PM


  • Snooth User: Klh
    Hand of Snooth
    30196 517

    I LOVE scrambled eggs, but I'm not so good at getting the perfectly balanced, creamy, but not oozy consistency. I think my heat is too high! Thanks for sharing. Helpful article!

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:29 PM


  • Snooth User: ichito
    46202 101

    Me on the other hand\, love the flavor given by such esoterica as garlic and onion. Slow cook both, then add the eggs, just before the half point add some fresh hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, minced both, finish cooking. The tomato is going to make sure that the eggs will stay moist, salt and pepper only at the table. like the poet said, that's just me.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 3:51 PM


  • Snooth User: Jennessy
    271489 63

    Mmmmm.... I want cheesy eggs now! I love adding in some veggies like the last poster put. My favorite being mushrooms, red bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. A dash of hot sauce is good too, and pepper, LOTS of pepper (I'm a pepper freak). Ooooooh... I think that will be my dinner tonight! With a nice slice of wheat toast.

    My ex would only eat eggs one way: completely dried out and burned. If there was even a tiny hint of wetness he would not go near the plate and claimed to lose his appetite for the rest of the day. I LOVE runny eggs (over easy or poached, bring 'em on!) and this grossed him out SO much it was insane. He would refuse to be in the same room as me if I was eating them. I think this just made me eat them more, and I refused to NOT order them when we went out for breakfast.... hmmmm, maybe eggs are the reason we didn't work out?! Lol =)

    Jul 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM


  • Add fresh spinach and a small amount of chopped green onions. With the cheese and milk, you have the perfect scrambled eggs.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 7:25 PM


  • Snooth User: niqueyl
    376016 0

    Goat cheese, spinach, a dash of nutmeg...heavenly

    Jul 29, 2011 at 8:20 PM


  • Snooth User: Markask
    413434 4

    A touch of Bells seasoning. Or, for the purists, a touch of sage, rosemary, oregan and thyme. For a real treat and if you can leave it alone, an couple slices of bacon crumbled up to add to the cheese. Enjoy!

    Jul 29, 2011 at 8:50 PM


  • I see you can go on and on about nothing. I might cancel because of articles like this one.

    Jul 29, 2011 at 9:13 PM


  • Snooth User: Stealclaw
    456639 2

    First I cut bacon into small pieces and fry them. I add chopped onions and some jalapeño peppers. Depending upon how high we might out cholesterol levels to be this day, we might add some chopped meat such as ham. After all is thoroughly cooked we add chopped fresh tomatoes.

    To 4 eyes we add some cream, salt, pepper and a touch of brown mustard. You can't believe the flavor that the mustard adds. We add the egg mixture using low heat and add whatever type of cheese or cheese we fancy. Up until now, I have never had the opportunity to share this recipe. Enjoy.

    Jul 30, 2011 at 2:15 AM


  • Sadly you left out the most important component - local farm fresh eggs from pasture raised hens. If you are buying eggs from a supermarket - regardless of how the carton is labeled, you are wasting your time.

    Jul 30, 2011 at 4:59 AM


  • Snooth User: Derek36
    494131 6

    the perfect addition to scrambled eggs-SMOKED SALMON-deliciousos !!!!
    FISHMAN

    Jul 30, 2011 at 7:26 AM


  • Snooth User: mchisnell
    289835 0

    Basic 'scrambled' eggs: add a touch of water, Herbamare, dill stir eggs with a fork to mix well. Pour into skillet let set a bit and gently lift the cooked portion up and over so the uncooked egg slides down onto the skillet. Do not let the eggs brown! Continue until the eggs are dry, they will be tender and delicious. I might cook a little bacon first and/or add muenster cheese. I use local farm fresh eggs.

    Jul 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM


  • Fresh Duck eggs, a dash of thick cream with the milk, served up soft and gooey, with a teaspoon of caviar (or substitute if you really, really have to) and then, la piece du resistance? A few drops of truffle oil.
    Magic, heaven on a non-stick.

    Jul 30, 2011 at 3:11 PM


  • Snooth User: oaibailey
    436991 0

    You know, I went through a great explanation of how to do it right, then had all of the password stuff, resubmit, etc. and my response is FORGET IT. This bachelor made a valiant attempt, but I tried to share some secrets from years of experience, but I will not rewrite it again, just to lose it. Correct this web site if you want meaningful comments.

    Jul 30, 2011 at 8:00 PM


  • Snooth User: macknc
    812666 0

    Skip the mik, it can lead to burning and curdling; if you feel you must dilute the product, use a bit of water... but you really don't nead that, either; if you want more volume, add another egg! And if it's creamy you crave (of course!), add some mayonnaise just as the eggs begin to 'take' in the pan. The cheese that I usually have on hand is shredded parmesan... again, just as the eggs begin to 'take'.

    Jul 31, 2011 at 11:39 AM


  • Snooth User: PANUCO51
    238539 57

    Please Drink the-Dirt, do cancel. We don´t want to see you here anymore!

    Jul 31, 2011 at 1:01 PM


  • Julia Child taught me about scrambled eggs, cook only until soft, dash of milk, salt and pepper to taste, and , it's amazing, and egg that tastes like an egg! That being said, my father used red hot sauce (a couple of drops), in his scrambles, and I put many different kinds of cheeses and seasonings, dependent upon my mood.

    Jul 31, 2011 at 1:11 PM


  • Especially awesome if you can squeeze a small flock of hens (I have two) into your backyard for ease of access to ingredients.

    Jul 31, 2011 at 6:02 PM


  • I am a major foodie, and usually love to talk about food and wine, but on this one, I'm with Drink-the-Dirt. Enough, already. And the comments are so NOT what the writer asked for. After he painstakingly explained the importance of NOT salting, and the purpose of the proportions of milk and cheese, what do the discussants do? Announce the IMPORTANCE of salting and using water instead of milk. Then there's one that warns of milk's potential to curdle - most unlikely if it is fresh - and then suggests adding mayonnaise. SERIOUSLY? Mayonnaise? To scrambled eggs? It was a well-written, fun article, krchandler.

    Jul 31, 2011 at 9:07 PM


  • How do I like my eggs? A variety of ways, but most importantly they should be served with grits alongside! YUMMMM

    Jul 31, 2011 at 11:21 PM


  • Snooth User: Potomac
    905393 0

    Slow cooking scrambled eggs is the only way to go. Tried your goat cheese scrambled eggs this last weekend but added caviar to the finished product before serving. Other things to do when kicking up the eggs a notch is to add add crab or lobster meat or add either scotch bonnet pepper sauce when scrambling or Coleman's English mustard. I generally leave out the milk.

    Aug 01, 2011 at 11:34 AM


  • Slow cook eggs only... as they begin to set, add a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt, or sour cream... Add cheese, and fresh pepper.... :). FRESH eggs from the hen are dramatically better than store bought. !!

    Aug 03, 2011 at 6:31 PM


  • Snooth User: Rich Tomko
    Hand of Snooth
    103444 2,854

    re: oaibailey; try again!

    As a long-term, but now reformed bachelor, I know the power of a good breakfast My speciality - the double-sided pancakes. But will have to save for another article. Would love to hear the secrets for your scrambled eggs.

    Aug 10, 2011 at 2:20 PM


  • You read my mind, my palate , and my Sundays - good show ! Usually we use Half & Half for a little added silken richness , and we like to add a mire poix of onion , green peppers and green chili's - Scrambled Eggs O'Brien ?

    Aug 16, 2011 at 8:58 AM


  • Snooth User: geggers
    354203 1

    The most important of all is the EGG itself. Factory-raised, stressed chickens produce eggs with pale yolks and runny whites. They are also already too old. Buy your eggs from a local farmer selling really fresh eggs from happy chickens and you will find that the yolks are firm and deep orange. The whites also won't run all over the pan like water, which helps when making a sunny-side up egg. You'll do yourself, and the chickens, a great favor!

    Aug 17, 2011 at 9:21 PM


  • Snooth User: Flannan1
    535931 14

    I hope this is not too much of a digression but I like making a breakfast sandwich in the morning. I got this neat breakfast sandwich maker at a local cooking store. It is round and just the size to fit on an English Muffin. I put in one piece of Canandian bacon then one egg scrambled (I don't use milk or water) and then three healthy chunks of Cheddar cheese. I then put the filllled sandwich maker in the microwave for two minutes. By the time the English Muffin is toasted the cheddareggbacon mixture is done and easy to fit on the English Muffin. Delish!

    Aug 21, 2011 at 12:24 AM


  • I agree that butter - a good deal of melted butter - is necessary for a good scrambled egg. I personally don't use milk, but I know others that do, and I respect them. My perfect scramble is a tablespoon of melted butter for every two/three eggs (depending on their size), and medium low heat. I do scramble the egg in a bowl first, then, when the butter is fully melted but not browned, I add my egg; ideally, the butter should wrap around it in the pan. Using a flat wooden spatula, a scrape and fold my eggs over each other, not allowing any browning, but enjoying -- as Jomarch said earlier -- the wee bits of white among the predominant yellow. Once the eggs have just set, I add cheese (cheddar, usually, sometimes emmenthaler, sometimes parm or romano, always freshly grated), salt, and freshly cracked black pepper before sliding them on a warm plate. They'r best served with hot cheese grits. I wooed my husband with these babies, and he's never enjoyed anyone else's eggs since.

    Aug 27, 2011 at 11:01 PM


  • Snooth User: wpier898
    451186 0

    I would use Vermont Sharp Cheddar not because I'm from Vermont :-)

    Sep 17, 2011 at 6:27 PM


  • Snooth User: Hogwild25
    192043 2

    Alas - you are all missing out - cook up several slices of bacon (thick cut and smoked) or some sausage patties or links - then slow cook the eggs in the leftover grease adding in your favorite cajun / creole spices or hot sauces - then pepper jack cheese with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes. Other additions is cubed rib eye steak, crab, scallops, smoked salmon, lobster. I have also added diced cow heart - a real delicacy. And for the hunters - duck, pheasant, quail, venison - so many ways to enjoy scrambled eggssssessss
    I will be trying the other comment about caviar and truffle oil - yummy!!

    Jan 17, 2012 at 4:21 PM


  • Snooth User: Hliguori1
    369824 11

    My cook use to put into the eggs a few drops of sweet vermouth instead of water or milk.......an old Italian ingredient that enhances the taste. Try it.

    Sep 16, 2012 at 1:08 AM


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