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!