It may seem heretical, but I think scrambled egg should taste of egg. So no cream, no milk, no flavourings, aside from and tiny amount of butter, salt and pepper. Ok, chopped parsley, tarragon or chives, if you must. But that’s it.
Actually, there’s one extra ingredient – time. The slower you can cook your scrambled eggs, the better they will taste. Of course you can make perfectly edible scrambled eggs in a matter of minutes, but if you want to taste them in al their natural rich, creamy, curded softness, then you should cook them for a minimum of 30 minutes, 40 if possible. I know that not many people have the patience, inclination or curiosity to try this, not to mention the time. Scrambled eggs are generally treated as a short order fix. Even the great Heston Blumenthal wants to wack them out in 15 minutes, and he uses a water bath, a hand blender, double cream AND milk. Heavens to Murgatroyd. But bear with me.
I developed this method after reading The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout, whose hero, Nero Wolfe, is an overweight private eye and gourmet, with his own private chef. ‘The client admitted to Wolf, in my hearing,’ writes Stout’s narrator, Archie Goodwin, ‘that she didn’t know how to scramble eggs . . . He admitted to her, in my hearing, that forty was more minutes than you could expect a housewife to spend exclusively scrambling eggs, but he maintained that it was impossible to do it to perfection in less with each and every particle exquisitely firm, soft and moist.’ Just so.
You can cook these scrambled eggs in a bain marie if you wish, and there are some advantages as the heat is indirect. Or you can use the very lowest setting you can achieve on your cooker. I’ve found my induction hob precise and perfect in this.
Either way, put a knob of butter no larger than the fingernail of your little finger into the pan and set it over the heat, water or direct as the case may be. While that is going on break your eggs into a bowl, 2 per person, and break them up with a fork, but not too much. When the butter is melted, sprinkle a little salt and pepper (and finely chopped herbs if you must), and add the eggs. The pan and butter must not be hot enough to cause the egg to immediately start coagulating on contact. Slow and gently does it. And start stirring, not too vigorously because you’re going to be there for some time. Look at is as a form of therapy or meditation. You can take time away from the stove now and then, but not for too long, and if you do, always give the eggs a lively work out when you get back.
Little by little they will begin to thicken, almost imperceptibly at first. The sheen becomes glazed. Little islands of firmer egg begin to form, around which the rest slowly coalesces, a mass of individual curds of egg, resting lightly and gently and individually on the next, a cumulo nimbus of egg. And when it reaches the desired consistency – people are as particular over the texture of their scrambled eggs as they are over boiled eggs. It’s a matter of very precise taste. And then their ready, to be heaped onto buttered toast, to have on their own, to sit beside a fragrant shaving of bacon,or a slice or two of fragrant, pink ham with a little collar of fat on it.