Eggs might be one of my favorite foods. Not only are eggs an extremely nutritious food, chalk full of micronutrients (vitamin B12, choline, selenium, vitamin D…), but because of their unique protein structure, eggs are one of the most versatile and interesting ingredients in the kitchen.
Eggs are to a mad scientist/chef like me what catnip is to cats. I go nuts for eggs, but I don’t roll around on them or rub my nose on them. The coolest thing about eggs is that you can make anything from a merengue to a custard to scrambled eggs. The versatility goes back to basic kitchen chemistry. The chemical structure changes depending on what kitchen technique you apply.
For scrambled eggs, we are interested in what happens when you apply heat. Excluding the fat and micronutrients, Eggs are essentially proteins plus water, and there are approximately 1,000 water molecules per protein molecule. When you apply heat, you are basically sending a jolt of energy (that’s what heat is). This agitates the egg proteins causing them to bounce around and collide with other proteins. The proteins made up of long amino acid chains begin to loosen from their folded structures, and these loose protein strings become tangled in a kind of 3-D web, turning the egg into a semi-solid state. As more heat is applied, more bonds break, leaving less space for the water, and eventually most of the water evaporates out. This causes the egg protein to coagulate and creates what we think of as scrambled eggs.
So, now that we’ve got the basic science down, how do we make perfect scrambled eggs?
1. Always cook on medium-low heat
Cooking on high, means running the risk of overcooking your eggs. When heat is applied for too long, the protein web tightens and retains so little water, that the white takes on a rubbery texture and the yolk becomes chalky. Are chalky and rubbery what you want in a scrambled egg? No. Cook on medium to low, and remember, patience is required to reach perfection.
For smaller curdles, stir almost constantly. This does two things. First, it keeps eggs from overcooking or burning on the bottom. It also helps keep the egg from shooting far past 158 F, which is the temperature of coagulation. Stirring constantly is one of the easiest ways to control the texture, and by controlling the texture, you control the fluff.
3. Add milk
Add approximately 1 tbs milk, water, or cream per large egg and beat with a whisk. Adding milk or water or cream dilutes the proteins, which in turn raises the coagulation temperature. Although the eggs will take longer to cook, they will be fluffier. When adding milk or water, it is crucial that eggs are cooked over low heat. Cooking over high heat will cause eggs to coagulate too quickly, and you will result in watery overcooked eggs, which I can tell you from personal experience, are disgusting.
4. Choose your veggies wisely
I am a big fan of veggies like peppers and onions in eggs, but spinach can be a bit tricky. Vegetables that release a lot of water, such as spinach and zucchini, mean you run the risk of the watery overcooked eggs mentioned above. Spinach of course can be done, but I would advise you, if adding spinach, to cook the spinach prior to the eggs and be sure to drain before adding to your scramble. Personally, I’ll stick with my pepper onion medley.
5. Add a bit of greek yogurt
This was Matt’s ingenious idea (wish I could take the credit, but I can’t). As Matt stated, “greek yogurt goes well in almost everything so why not stick it in eggs?” Here’s the secret trick for the creamiest eggs ever. As your eggs reach that perfect fluffy gooey state of readiness, remove from heat and stir in just a spoonful of plain greek yogurt. This will add a tangy creaminess that makes for some irresistible eggs. You may even be tempted to rub your cheek in them, although I would advise against it.