How to make perfect scrambled eggs without pre-scrambling them in a bowl
Really? Another gimmicky internet article about how to make perfect scrambled eggs? I'm imagining a collective eye roll behind tiny glowing phone screens and big computer monitors alike.
Scrambled eggs are ostensibly one of the first things we all learn to cook, so by the time we're adults, we should have them mastered. And there are only so many ways to skin a cat, so to speak.
The thing is, like many of the most simple foods, scrambled eggs leave little room for error. I've always been stressed by the fact that eggs can go from soft to rubbery in an alarmingly short amount of time.
It turns out that I just hadn't learned the method that worked the best for me. Lucky Peach, the dearly departed food magazine where I used to work, published a single-subject book dedicated to eggs — called "All About Eggs" — by one of its editors, Rachel Khong. Tucked within this volume was the technique I didn't even know I needed for making perfect scrambled eggs.
Turns out, the best way to make scrambled eggs is to not scramble them. At least not until the very last minute.
The method comes from Saltie, a really great sandwich shop in Brooklyn. Reading the headnote for the recipe from Caroline Fidanza, the chef and owner of Saltie, she described the feeling I'd always had about scrambled eggs: "For so long, I had this idea of what a scrambled egg was, and it wasn’t exciting," she says. But when Saltie ended up needing to serve a lot of egg dishes, she learned a technique. In "All About Eggs," she shares the lowdown:
"Rebecca Collerton, one of my co-owners, had this technique for eggs that was the best of both over easy and scrambled, where you scramble the whites in the pan, leaving the yolks whole, and then you break them at the last minute, folding them into the whites...This was an exciting way to cook. The technique changed me. It was so easy, and it had such a better texture than the small-curd scramble method. It was … rugged. It was easy. It was a joy."
Here's how to do it, step by step:
1. MELT THE BUTTER
Heat unsalted butter over medium-low heat in a nonstick skillet until melted. You'll want to heat the butter until it's warm, but not hot. Watch for bubbling — that means it's ready for the eggs.
2. CRACK THE EGGS RIGHT INTO THE PAN
Crack two eggs (or however many you want to scramble) right into the pan, without scrambling them first (I know, this feels really wrong and scandalous). Sprinkle the eggs with salt.
3. WAIT FOR THE WHITES TO SET, THEN SCRAMBLE THEM
Don't touch the eggs until the whites begin to set. When the whites just begin to turn opaque, use a heat-resistant spatula to gently move them around, fluffing them up and forming curds like you'd want in a scramble.
4. REMOVE THE PAN FROM THE HEAT AND BREAK THE YOLKS
When the whites are almost but not completely set, remove the pan from the heat. Then, use your spatula to break the yolks and gently fold them into the scrambled whites. The residual heat on the stove will completely set the whites while still leaving them fluffy, and cook the yolks slightly without sacrificing that slight soft, buttery quality you want. Then, you'll have scrambled eggs — but much better.
5. PUT THEM ON A PLATE AND EAT!
Transfer them to the plate when they've come together — Saltie emphasizes that you should err on the side of runny. The eggs should be very lightly scrambled, like a cross between an over-easy egg and scrambled egg.
Yes, there are a lot of ways to cook scrambled eggs, and maybe I won't convince you that this will beat your preferred method, but for Caroline, it was the answer to making scrambled eggs at Saltie: "It’s funny that for this little simple food, there are so many cooking techniques: so many styles, times, and temperatures. This took all the stress out of cooking eggs. It became the signature way for us to do it — there is no other way. I still, to this day, love it."