... in theory and practice

(By special request, an extra pretentious HOWTO on yummy scrambled eggs.)

As with most simple recipes, the deliciousness of a given plate of scrambled eggs is related more to the quality of the ingredients than any particular skill on the part of the cook. One wants top quality chicken eggs: size Large, grade A or better, and as fresh as possible from the store. Also important, at least to this recipe, is olive oil, which should be extra virgin and as green as possible -- greener oil means higher olive fragment content, and thus more interesting taste. Black pepper ground in a mill and sea salt should do for spices. Finally, have a five or six big chunky ice cubes on hand; if you are obsessive-compulsive you can make these from distilled water, but that is probably overkill ...

Some kind of frying pan and a utensil with a flat edge should be used for the actual cooking. Inertia of utensil material is what we are looking for here, as one does not want the cooking surface to flavor the food. In order of worsening desirability, try to get a pan made out of glass, stainless steel, Teflon, or if there is a gun to your head, cast iron. A stiff rubber utensil is probably best, but a metal one may be used; melting of synthetic material utensils should not be an issue with the low temperatures involved.

Get the pan hot, to just under the point where a drop of water sizzles immediately. Too much heat turns the eggs green and burns the oil, while too little bores the cook to death with cooking time and may result in flat eggs. Add a little oil and distribute it across the surface; if it smokes, turn down the heat, wash out the pan, and try again.

At this point, my methodology deviates significantly from standard scrambled egg practice. Instead of beating the eggs to even a slight degree, crack them directly into the hot pan. Purists may argue that fluffiness will suffer if the eggs are not beaten. Making them this way, however, helps avoid green eggs and sulfurous smell by keeping the yolk matter more separate from the white matter -- one never sees green fried eggs, correct? Besides, fluffiness is not the be-all and end-all of scrambled egg yuminess, and a spongy came-from-a-powder-style dish of eggs is almost worse than none at all. To further my defense, while most recipes call for some dairy product to be mixed in during beating, because of the olive oil and ice this recipe needs none to be successful.

Since we are not, in fact, making fried eggs, immediately subsequent to adding the final egg, begin scraping and turning at the eggs now barely turning white on the bottom. While doing this, encourage the surface tension (actually a nuclear envelope, yum) of the yolks to break, that they may be folded into the egg mass proper. The yolk will naturally stay somewhat separate from the white, sort of an oil-on-water effect, so the final product will have faintly visible swirls of white and yellow. Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that one needs about 20% more sea salt than regular iodized salt to achieve the same degree of saltiness.

Using ice cubes during cooking is another deviation, which must be major as I couldn't find any other instances of it on the internet. However, using an ice cube is how my mother taught me to scramble eggs, and I've talked to others who have heard of the method outside of my family, so it is neither especially isolated nor (probably) a valueless practice. My guess is that the icy coldness stops the thermal reaction which hardens the egg matter, thus protecting it from over-cooking while not stopping the entire dish itself from cooking. This, along with having extracellular hot water to "boil" the cellular egg material, and the bonus of moisturizing the eggs in general, is probably why the use of ice cubes increments deliciousness so cromulently.

At any rate, about two minutes after the final egg begins cooking, it is time to add the first ice cube. With your fingers, push the cube to the bottom of the pan, then move it over the pan's surface, turning and breaking the eggs just as the rubber scraper would. Alternate between the two as needed, since the scraper can turn the eggs all the way over, but the cube needs to come in contact with as much egg matter as possible. When the cube is too small to continue, throw it in the sink and begin with a new cube.

The stirring with ice will continue for the duration of the cooking. If you simply can't imagine scrambling eggs without a dairy product being involved somewhere along the line, add heavy cream or half-and-half after the first ice cube. Otherwise, occasionally (two to five times, adjusting for quantity of eggs) clear off a space in the middle of the pan and pour a teaspoon of oil in it, then wait for the oil to get hot and stir the eggs back into it. You will know the eggs are done when there is no, as in exactly zero, snotty-looking raw egg material visible anywhere in the pan. While letting the eggs become too dry will discolor them and make them disagreeable to some, leaving randomly distributed half-mouthfuls of hot, sticky goo throughout the final product is roughly infinitely worse -- as in all things, strive for balance.

Serve the eggs on a pre-warmed ceramic dish (of whatever shape suits your fancy) if possible, with whatever else you enjoy with your eggs. For a treat that will make them even worse for your body, sprinkle with some strongly flavored cheese, maybe Cheddar or Pecorino Romano. Even though scrambled eggs would seem to be pretty innocuously flavored, their strong protein content and sulfur undertones will simply overwhelm weak farm cheeses, Mozzarella and the like.