We had the usual lazy Sunday: lots of lounging around on sofas; newspapers sprawled all over the floor, Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion" on the television- that sort of thing. There was a short article in one of the colour supplements (was it "The Sunday Times", or even the dreaded "Stella"?) about scrambled eggs. Which set me thinking: what is the best way to make the perfect scrambled eggs?
Back in the 80's, I had an interesting plate of scrambled eggs at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane. This was a breakfast affair- we had all been to some charity ball at the Dorchester, and drifted in to the Hilton at seven o' clock in the morning, feeling shattered. The scrambled eggs were bright yellow in colour. And I really mean bright yellow.
Now I'm sure that The Hilton use some sort of rare organic hen's egg (the shell no doubt mottled in a delicate Eton Blue); and I would hate to imply that their chefs took short cuts in any shape or form (this was the 1980's after all); but I have to state that the long finger of suspicion pointed to the remote possibility that they had used yellow food dye in the cooking process. Quelle Horreur.
Up until now, I've made scrambled eggs in the Escoffier tradition, and I wrote about this on The Greasy Spoon a year or two back:
"Break eight good eggs into a mixing bowl. Blend them very very gently with a fork. You do not want to beat them. You do not add water or milk. That's what Irish cooks did in the 1950's. You don't want to add salt at this stage, either, as it makes the eggs watery. Not good.
I think it was the restauranteur, Marcel Boulestin, who suggested that Escoffier also rubbed garlic onto his fork to add a bit of flavour to the eggs. I'll have to check up on that one- I may be wrong.
Anyway, heat up a small copper pan. Add a knob of unsalted butter. Pour in the eggs, crank down the heat, and start to cook them at an extremely low temperature. In a professional kitchen they would probably use a "bain-marie". That means placing the smaller pan over a larger pan full of simmering boiling water.
As I've got a job of sorts to hold down, and have limited time, I don't do this; but I can only stress that for it to work, you need to set your heat to the lowest possible setting. Stir slowly with a wooden spoon from the middle, so that the egg sets in creamy curds.
This is a real art. You don't want the egg to stick to the pan, yet at the same time, you want the egg to set. When the eggs are almost ready, stir in some cream. Quickly remove the eggs from the heat. They will carry on cooking in the pan. Now you can stir in some more butter to taste, and season with salt, pepper, and if you're in the mood, chopped chives."
But we can improve on this. Elizabeth David came up with a brainwave. She deleted an egg white. So if you're using say, four eggs- use four egg yolks but only three egg whites. This will make your scrambled eggs yellow. No need for food dye. And that's how you make the Perfect Scrambled Egg.