Everybody thinks they can make great scrambled eggs. Most people are wrong. They think that great scrambled eggs are fast and easy. They aren’t. They think they need a lot of fancy added ingredients. They don’t.
The main point to remember—other than using the best, freshest eggs that you can find along with good sweet butter—is that scrambled eggs, cooked with great patience, have a texture like velvet and a taste that reminds you why you want to be alive.
I learned how to make this kind of scrambled eggs from The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, and Alice learned to make them from the painter, Francis Picabia, who understood that scrambled eggs should not be fluffy curds, but a dense, almost custardy concoction that you eat with great joy and concentration. To achieve that, Mr. Picabia had five rules:
- Cook them in a saucepan, not a frying pan.
- Cook them over very low heat.
- Stir them constantly; he used a fork, but I prefer a heatproof rubber spatula.
- Keep adding butter as you cook them. Mr. Picabia preferred 2 tablespoons of butter per egg - which comes out to a stick of butter for every 4 eggs that you’re cooking. “More,” he counseled, “if you can bring yourself to it.” I don’t mind counseling the opposite; it’s really the slow cooking that makes these eggs, not the butter.
- Don’t rush; Mr. Picabia says to take half an hour to prepare the eggs. That, I’ll admit, also seems slightly excessive to me. I think you can turn the heat up slightly and do it in about 15 minutes.
Below is the recipe verbatim from The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. Feel free to adjust it as I have, but as long as you keep the heat low and your hand moving until they’re creamy but nearly set, you’ll end up with the most luscious eggs of your life
Eggs Francis Picabia
Break 8 eggs into a bowl and mix them well with a fork, adding salt but no pepper. Pour them into a saucepan - yes a saucepan, not a frying pan. Put the saucepan over a very, very low flame, and keep turning them with a fork while very slowly adding in very small quantities ½ lb. butter - not a speck less, more if you can bring yourself to it. It should take ½ hour to prepare this dish. The eggs of course are not scrambled, but with the butter, no substitute admitted, produce a suave consistency that only gourmets will appreciate.