If one food got me through college, it might’ve been eggs. Eggs are:
- Not particularly expensive—even the fancy organic kinds (which are totally worth it taste-wise)
- Good vehicles for cheese
- …and for vegetables
- …and for meats
- …and hot sauce
- A delicious part of brunch, which is the most fun meal of the day
- Also delicious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- …also as a midnight snack
- An important part of many, many, many other recipes (and thus worth having around)
- Maybe not as big of a problem for cholesterol as you’ve been told
But if you’ve never made your own eggs, you are almost certainly missing out on the best possible eggs experience. This is because when you get eggs at a dining hall or a restaurant, they often have to sit under a warmer for a while, and this makes them dry and rubbery—and thus, way less delicious than if you made them at home.
Also, there is going to come a time in your life where somebody asks you if you can handle making the eggs. I promise this will happen: for whatever reason, people like to delegate egg preparation. So you need to know how to make then.
In this piece, I’m going to cover scrambled eggs. There are a lot of other possibilities, but scrambling is arguably the easiest. It’s certainly the most forgiving. And if you’re interested in being less #basic in the kitchen, then a good rule of thumb is to make foods that let you mess up a little.
So Let’s Get Started. What Do We Need?
Eggs, obviously. Before you buy them, it’s a good idea to check the Sell By date, and also to open the carton to make sure that none of them are already cracked.
You’ll also need:
- a bowl
- a fork
- a small frying pan
- wooden spoon
You also probably want salt and pepper, and milk or cream. If you have a whisk, that’s great, but not required.
Wait, What if I Want to Put Stuff in My Eggs?
…then you’ll complicate this blog, but I admit that that’s legit. Anything you add to eggs is guaranteed to become more delicious. It’s science.
Just remember that you should prepare your add-ins ahead of time. For example, if you want onions and mushrooms, you should chop, cook, and set them aside before you move to the next step. If you want cheese, you shut cut it (while making any jokes that occur) into slices before cracking the eggs. And feel free to get a little weird with what you add: you might be surprised what turns out to be delicious. Here I’m doing white asparagus and green onions with my old friends garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper:
Okay, Let’s Get Cracking!
While it might seem natural to crack the eggs on the edge of the bowl, it’s actually better to tap them against a flat surface. This creates more of a uniform crack, which will help prevent bits of shell from falling into the bowl. You want a fault line that’s big enough that you can easily pull the egg apart—over the bowl of course.
It can take a little practice to get good at this, so don’t get frustrated if you lose some shell into the bowl. Just fish the pieces out by trapping them against the edge of the bowl with a fork tine, and then pulling them up to the surface.
Next, with the fork (or a whisk, if you have one), stir the egg until the yokes (the yellowy-orange part in
the center) and the whites (the goopy clear stuff) mix together. When they begin to froth, you’ve mixed enough. You can also mix in a dollop of milk or cream now, too—this will make for fluffier eggs.
“Dollop,” by the way, is the official scientific measurement for “pour, like, a little bit.” Again, its science; don’t ask questions.
Ready the Pan!
Let the pan warm on the stove over medium heat for a minute, and then add a sliver of butter. Let—
Wait! Do I Have to Use Butter?
What kind of question is this?! Why wouldn’t you use butter?!
Okay, fine: there are plenty of reasons you might want to use something else to grease the pan. And the truth is you can use pretty much whatever fat or oil you want. Some of us have even, from time to time, used bacon grease (don’t judge). You can also use olive oil or vegetable oil or coconut oil, especially if you think it’ll mesh well with whatever you’re making your scrambled eggs with. For example, if you’re going to make a spinach and feta cheese scramble, olive oil might be a great choice.
One thing that does matter is, if you do use butter, you want to keep the heat around medium. Butter has a fairly low “smoking” point, meaning it’ll burn off if you cook on high heat (and then your eggs will stick to the pan).
Actually Ready the Pan!
Once the pan is hot, add a sliver of butter to melt. How much do you use? Well:
- At least enough to cover the bottom of the pan (once you’ve swished it around)
- A little more for creamier, butterier eggs.
Once the butter has melted, add the eggs, a couple pinches of salt and pepper. If you want cheese, now is the time to add that, too. If you’ve got herbs or other foods to add, I’d recommend waiting until the eggs are almost done to stir them in.
Over the next ten-ish minutes, some chemistry is going to happen in your pan wherein your eggs go from this:
So, what is your role in this (i.e. what do you do)? Mainly, it’s to stir, and maybe dance to whatever tunes you’ve got on. There are a lot of ways to micromanage your eggs while they cook, and everybody seems to have a different method. Some people say, stir every so often. Some say, stir constantly but gently. I have one friend who likes to lift the eggs off the heat every so often. You can try anything you want, but the point is this: you want the heat to spread as evenly throughout the eggs as possible. It helps to cook on medium or even medium-low heat so that nothing gets too cooked too quickly.
How Do I Know When They’re Done?
The best answer is sort of frustrating: they’re done when they look done. Assuming you don’t like extraordinarily runny eggs, you want them to look solid and fluffy. You might want to turn off the stove when they look close to done, since the pan’s heat will keep cooking them even once you’ve shut off the burner. You can also add whatever vegetables, meats, and herbs you like just before they’re done, too. Again, you’ll want to cook these ahead of time.
Is That It?
Yep! Put ’em on a plate and stick ’em with a fork. And don’t forget the hot sauce.