“Do you like eggs?”
She laughed. She looked at me, so I laughed too.
Wolfe scowled. “Confound it, are eggs comical? Do you know how to scramble eggs, Mrs. Valdon?”
“Yes, of course.”
“To use Mr. Goodwin’s favorite locution, one will get you ten that you don’t. I’ll scramble eggs for your breakfast and we’ll see. Tell me forty minutes before you’re ready.”
Her eyes widened. “Forty minutes?”
“Yes. I knew you didn’t know.”
—Nero Wolfe in The Mother Hunt
Forty minutes seems like a long time for eggs, doesn’t it? All my life, I’d heat butter or olive oil in a skillet and whip up a couple of eggs in a minute flat —two, if I was dawdling. Boom! Breakfast is served! And I’d consume them just as quickly as they’d cooked. But somewhere along the way I stumbled upon Julia Child’s recipe for scrambled eggs (or ouefs brouillés) in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 and my life has never been the same. These are eggs to savor with a great cup of coffee.
Custardy, rich and impossibly, well, eggy, this is the recipe to show you just how multidimensional the egg can be. I usually pare down the recipe even further, skipping the enrichment butter or cream at the end because it would almost be gilding the lily to add anything to such perfection.
Now I know you’re skeptical. I know you’re wondering just how any scrambled egg could be worth more than five minutes of your time, but you’ll have to trust me. (This is assuming a custard-like texture is what you’re looking for, of course. Gil prefers eggs fluffy enough to float off his fork, which is 180 degrees from these. But try it out —at the very least, it’ll be like nothing you’ve had before.)
And once you’ve mastered this recipe, let me know; maybe we can tackle Nero Wolfe’s 40-minute double boiler scrambled eggs together.
recipe after the jump
Scrambled Eggs from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons softened butter or whipping cream
Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper for 20 to 30 seconds to blend yolks and whites.
Smear the bottom and sides of a heavy-bottomed, cold saucepan, 7-8 inches in diameter, with 2 tablespoons of softened butter. Pour in the eggs, and set over medium-low heat. Stir slowly and constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, reaching all over the bottom of the pan. The eggs will gradually heat and won’t appear to be cooking for a few minutes, but be patient. Suddenly they’ll begin to thicken into a custard. Stir rapidly, moving pan on and off heat, until the eggs have almost thickened to the consistency you wish. Remove pan from heat, as they’ll continue to thicken slightly.
When eggs are the right consistency, stir in the enrichment butter or cream to stop the cooking. Season to taste and serve immediately.