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Eggs should be cooked low and slow

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One of the many reasons why I write a food column is to inspire you to get into the kitchen; to embrace the opportunity to unleash gastronomic adventures in your home.

One other reason of great importance is to hopefully make things easier for you through different tricks, tips, and time-saving ideas.

But not this time. This time, I'm going to take one of the easiest things you do so quickly and make you do it longer with more finesse. A staple dish for almost any breakfast that you think you have mastered ever since you started cooking, and now I'm going to re-teach you everything you thought you knew about this dish.

Yes, in our homes it's time to revolutionize the art of making scrambled eggs.

Wait. Hold on here. Scrambled eggs? Isn't this as simple as mixing some eggs in a bowl, pouring into a hot pan, and moving them around until they're done? Not quite.

Yes, the mixing is still the same and moving them around in the pan is kind of the same, but the cooking temperature needs to change . . . thus the time it takes to make them will be longer.

However, the results are worth it.

The main rule I have learned about egg cookery is always to avoid high heat and do not overcook. High heat and overcooking will make eggs rubbery, discoloured, and affect their flavour.

Eggs mostly are made up of delicate proteins and like all proteins, they coagulate when cooked. Coagulation is the process of the protein strands connecting with each other, becoming firmer, shrinking, and releasing moisture.

Exposing any proteins to extreme heat will toughen them and make them dry—especially eggs.

The excessive heat also could cause discoloration. Have you ever cooked a hard-boiled egg and the egg yolk had a green ring around it? This is caused by the sulphur in the egg whites reacting with the iron in the yolk and forming iron sulfide.

This reaction causes not only that familiar green colour but also a strong odour and flavour.

Now in the case of the hard-boiled egg, this only shows up at the area where the egg white meets with the yolk. But with scrambled eggs, the two are combined into a homogenous mixture and the results could be unappealing if not cooked properly.

This is where low heat plays such an important role.

I always scramble my eggs with a bit of added moisture: about one tablespoon of water, milk, or cream for every two large-sized eggs. Do this in a bowl with some salt and pepper until the eggs are thoroughly combined.

Heat a pan over medium heat and melt a small pat of butter in the pan. When the butter starts to foam, add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low. Stir gently occasionally while cooking over the low heat as the eggs coagulate; basically, you are lifting portions of the coagulated eggs up so that uncooked parts can run underneath.

Just try not to stir too much as this will cause the eggs to be broken up into very small particles.

When the eggs are set, but still soft and moist, remove from the heat and serve immediately. The results will be fluffy, succulent, and nothing like the hard, rubbery bits of eggs you get when doing this over high heat.

If you are a stickler for exact temperatures, it is important to note that egg whites and egg yolks each coagulate at different temperatures. This is what allows you to cook an egg (soft boiled or fried, for example) with firm whites and a soft yolk.

Egg whites typically coagulate between 140-149 degrees F while egg yolks will coagulate between 144-158 degrees F. Combined eggs (as in scrambled eggs) thus will produce a coagulation point of around 155 degrees F.

It also is important to mention that the term “scrambled eggs” comes from the process of mixing the eggs together in advance of cooking, not from overworking them in the pan.

Send your food/cooking questions to dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C., V2T 6R4.

Chef Dez is a chef, writer, and host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com

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