I follow quite a lot of ‘foodie’ blogs but for the most part ‘comments’ seem to consist only of oohs and aahs, the ubiquitous “looks/sounds delicious” and occasional congratulations on the photography. Does no-one want to discuss food and cooking? (Apologies to the few who I know do).
So I thought I’d try to provoke some discussion, even dissention, with the following:
So far in my life I have found only three people who can make ‘perfect’ scrambled eggs, one of whom (my mother) is no longer with us, the other two – my sister and myself – having learned from her. After watching Michel Roux Jnr, the only ‘celebrity chef’ I find the least interesting, give the task to cookery students on tv recently, I have a feeling that he can probably make them too.
The first rule is good eggs, but then you have the difficult decision of whether just to make fried or poached eggs and dip into the dark, delicious, uncontaminated yolk, or make scrambled eggs. We have a ‘bacon and eggs’ breakfast just about every Sunday and my decisions go about 50/50. This morning it was for scrambled.
Before I get into the argument, I’d just say that as far as I know a basic rule is never, never eat scrambled eggs in an hotel, unless you enjoy cushion foam with your bacon. There used to be an exception, the great railway hotel by Waverley Station in Edinburgh, where when I was a fairly regular visitor you helped yourself to a wonderful selection of tidbits, including devilled kidneys and fresh, properly sauteed mushrooms, from under a vast array of hot silver domes. But I’m talking of around 50 years ago and unless I win the lottery I’m unlikely to make a visit to see how it is now (if I do win the lottery I’ll certainly hold a dinner at Le Gavroche with the stipulation that Michel Roux is in charge on the night).
Good eggs? I’m very lucky, I can pick up mine with a ten-minute walk to a B&B which serves tea and cakes while the free-ranging chucks scavenge for dropped crumbs among your legs, watched over by their magnificent master (so all the eggs are fertilized so you want to be sure that they’re very fresh). Don’t be fooled that the “free-range” eggs from the supermarket are anything like them, or those with the ridiculous label ‘organic’ (any school kid who studies chemistry will tell you that all food is organic); there is no comparison in taste.
The next rule is do not contaminate the eggs; no creme fraiche, no cream, no bits of bacon or pancetta, no herbs – the addition of any of these will make a perhaps delightful, tasty concoction, but it’s not scrambled eggs. The only additions for scrambled eggs are a knob of butter (to prevent the eggs sticking to the pan), a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.
Rule three: don’t beat the eggs, just drop them in the pan, add the seasoning, break the yolks with a wooden spoon and put on a medium high heat.
Rule four: alternate leaving the eggs still for a few seconds – no more than five – then stirring gently for a longer time, scraping well the bottom of the pan, where a very thin layer of cooked egg will have formed, between the ‘still’ and the ‘stirring’.
Rule five: same as risotto, don’t leave it for a second!
Continue with the still, scraping and stirring until you have a creamy yellow custard with soft flecks of translucent white – only just ‘set’.
Rule six: if you overdo it and get the cushion foam (if you get distracted it’s quite likely), do what I do – chuck it in the garbage and start again.
My scrambled eggs – five large ones allowed to reach room temperature before cracking into the pan – took 7 minutes.
PS. I promised on my photo blog to do a post on the B&B mentioned above. I’ll be doing it soon.