In This Issue
Scrambled eggs This simple classic can be light and fluffy, or greasy, leathery and tough. Procedure makes the difference.
Pity the poor embattled egg. The target of occasional criticism for its high cholesterol content and occasional reports of salmonella contamination, a lesser product might have disappeared entirely from our larders.
Indeed, not so many years ago, some health experts warned against enjoying more than one egg monthly because of its purported impact on cholesterol. (This concern seems to have been muted in light of more thorough research finding little relationship between eating eggs - despite high cholesterol in the yolk - and blood cholesterol levels).
And at one point in the 1990s, salmonella concerns prompted the great state of New Jersey to ban entirely the sale of eggs cooked sunny-side-up or over-easy in Garden State diners, an authoritarian excess that was promptly laughed off the books. (Again, there's a bit of truth in the concern, but only a bit: 1 egg in 100,000 is contaminated, and cooking kills the bacteria. If you're not a risk-taker, don't eat raw eggs. Avoiding mass-market, industrial eggs in favor of quality locally produced henfruit may also improve the odds ... and gets you better flavored eggs as a happy added benefit.)
I'll admit that the publicity scared me away from eggs for a while there, but I couldn't stay away, and nowadays I consider them an important part of a healthy diet. More so because eggs aren't just for breakfast any more: Enjoy an omelet or a frittata or a Spanish tortilla as a vegetarian lunch entree or even the main course for a light, meatless dinner, and you'll enjoy good flavor and a useful base upon which to build flavors, and you'll be better off nutritionally than if you had chosen a steak or a Big Mac.
Mastering the egg-cooking basics is a useful pursuit for the home chef, as a few simple techniques can make the difference between passable eggs and some of the best you ever ate. We've discussed a variety of basic egg preps before, including the omelet (Feb. 6. 2003), the perfect fried egg (May 4, 2006) and the Spanish tortilla, a frittata-like goodie that has nothing to do with Mexican flatbread (June 24, 2004).
Today, let's walk through the process for making a perfect scrambled egg, a diner favorite that's too often turned into something greasy, leathery and tough through careless handling. What a waste! A scrambled egg can be a thing of simple beauty, a billowy cloud of airy egg just cooked through and served steaming from the skillet, a natural partner with bacon and a ready host for cheese, truffles, smoked salmon or ... well, you name it.
The secret lies in cooking it quickly but not too hot, stirring it sufficiently but not too much, and - as is so often the way - using high-quality, natural ingredients and keeping things simple.
4 fresh eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce (optional)
2 ounces (60g) butter
Large clove garlic
1. Break the eggs into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if you wish, a dash of a good hot sauce, just enough to contribute a haunting piquant note. Stir briskly with a fork or small whisk until the yolk and the white are well blended and the egg slightly frothy, but you don't really need to overdo it. Beating the egg up into a foam won't really accomplish anything.
NOTE: You may notice that I did not add any liquid. Most recipes suggest whisking in a tablespoon (15ml) water, milk or cream for each egg, and there's certainly no harm in this. The water may make the eggs slightly lighter, and the dairy products may add a touch of creaminess. After having tried 'em all, repeatedly, I've come down on the side of simple purity: Just-plain egg with a little butter and light seasoning works best for me.
3. Put a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and the peeled, smashed garlic clove. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and stops bubbling (indicating that the water it contains has boiled off) and the garlic is aromatic.
4. Discard the garlic, reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the eggs.
5. Now, here is the secret to tender, creamy scrambled eggs: Unlike omelets, which want high heat and quick cooking, scrambled eggs are best cooked gently and fairly slowly, so they don't scorch and harden. Let the eggs sit in the melted butter for a moment without stirring - if you can hear them sizzling, lift the skillet off heat for a few seconds until the sizzling stops. When you see the edges of the egg starting to cook, use a wooden spoon to gently stir them, from the edges toward the center. Try to allow the forming curds of egg to stay in large pieces; there's no need to stir vigorously and break them up. Keep stirring, gently, folding the curds over and allowing any remaining egg liquid to flow onto the hot pan. As soon as it's all solidified, stop immediately and scrape the eggs onto a warm plate; they'll continue to cook a little more from retained heat, so you want to stop a moment before they're done, to avoid hard, overcooked egg. The entire procedure shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.
MATCHING WINE: I've never understood the conventional wisdom that eggs are a "difficult" wine match. Bubbly makes a great brunch pairing, and either a fruity red or a crisp white also works very well, even more so if you've stirred a little grated cheese into the scrambles just as they finish cooking.
Terroirs of Burgundy with Robin Garr
Now, with the respected wine-touring company French Wine Explorers, we've crafted a special, once-in-a-lifetime Terroirs of Burgundy tour aimed at thrifty, value-seeking wine lovers.
If you've long dreamed of learning Burgundy and its wines with an expert at hand but thought you couldn't possibly afford it, I invite you to consider The Terroirs of Burgundy. I'll be personally leading the July 2-7, 2007 tour, and I promise maximum "bang for the buck."
Interested? Don't delay, as the tour is strictly limited to 16 wine lovers. You can review the itinerary and details at http://www.wineloverspage.com/tour/
For more information or to make reservations, send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1-877-261-1500 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). And if you would like to discuss this tour with me personally, feel free to write me at email@example.com
FoodLovers Discussion Group
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article
or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our online
FoodLovers Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new
Today's column is also cross-posted in the Food & Drink section in our
Netscape/CompuServe WineLovers Community,
To contact me by E-mail, write firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.
Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives
Previous Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Verdure (April 5, 2006)
Wine Advisor FoodLetter archive:
30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
LET US HEAR FROM YOU!
If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's
FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition
and recipe, please drop me a note at email@example.com. I really
enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail
if I possibly can. And of course you're always welcome to join the
conversations with fellow foodies on our online FoodLovers Discussion
For information, E-mail