Friday, March 5, 2010

How Elizabeth David made scrambled egg

When I was in Suffolk the other day the pub I was staying in, the Anchor at Walberswick, included among its splendid breakfast menu Elizabeth David's scrambled egg (above)

I didn't have time to ask the chef Sophie Dorber what was special about it and couldn't find it in any of my Elizabeth David books at home but finally tracked down the recipe on Google Books which has an online copy of French Provincial Cooking.

The secret is taking out one white in every four eggs you use which accounts for the unusually deep yellow colour. She also adds "a very large lump of butter' before she adds the eggs and another once they start to thicken then takes the pan off the heat once what she describes as the 'characteristic granules' begin to appear. Finished off in the residual heat it makes for a softer, creamier scrambled egg. She finishes by saying, in typically crisp fashion, that 'eggs for scrambling must be of the most absolute freshness'. And also 'very well beaten' before you put them in the pan.

What's your favourite way of making scrambled egg. Do you agree or disagree with Elizabeth David (if one dares say one disagrees which such a goddess).


  1. A couple of eggs per person, a knob of butter, a dash of cream, seasoned with salt and pepper. And always cooked on the hob, and not one of those horrible microwave things. Thats how I have always made them.

    I have to say, I have never tried the Elizabeth David method, but I shall tomorrow morning.

    Interesting post Fiona, as usual!

  2. Bain marie. Warming plate on an aga is good too. If you're making muffins to go with it add some chives/ onion to the dough. Never tried it the way californians do though - scrambled egg white.

  3. 2 -3 beaten eggs per person,
    half a shell of cream/full cream milk per egg
    melted butter,
    salt and pepper to finish.

    soft, buttery, creamy eggs cooked on the lowest possible heat, stirred constantly and taken off the heat as soon as they start to thicken letting the eggs finish in the residual heat of the pan.

    yum - i fancy some now :)

  4. I dare to disagree ;) "Scrambled" does not mean "very well beaten", does it? I prefer yolk and white only slightly whisked. But the idea to remove one white is good, will give it a try.

  5. I'm with you kochssenz. I don't beat my eggs particularly hard either. I don't usually use cream Luigi and Kate (have quite enough trouble fitting into my jeans as it is) though I love the idea of measuring it by the half shell.

    Never made it in a bain-marie, James but sure it would work. And chive muffins sound absolutely delicious

  6. I am a chef and I seem to get the most consistent positive feedback with whole egg,and cream - but only when seasoned correctly.
    This ratio is salt hungry: if I was making 1 cup of scrambled egg (approx.), it would be almost one third full cream, and have a teaspoon of salt min.
    Re: the suggestion of adding extra yolks and removing whites as per 'Liz David's recipe is great,I would like two more yolks per cup, I would just chuck them in with the rest of the whole eggs as a bonus.

    I recommend freshly ground white pepper, lots of chives and parsley, and butter (about 2 tablespoons per cup of egg mix - cook just to noisette (until it browns just a little and smells nutty/sweet) at the beginning), then add egg and cook on a medium heat to avoid color on the bottom, a plastic spatula or flat - faced wooden spoon seem to work best in our saute pans.

    I whisk the eggs very well with the salt, let it sit a few minutes, (the egg mix goes "oranger", and more fluid), which facilitates the next important step : "passing" it through a sieve to remove the chalazae and posible shell contamination. Then add your cream, and whisk together well. I like to add 1 - 2 tablespoons of extra cream right at the end of the cooking process and fold it through the egg mix. I add the herbs at the same time.
    The above cooking methods should work fine. Just don't go too hot.
    Guess you are thinking: gawd, this guy's mad,this recipe will make me fat and kill me, but it seems to keep you good folks coming back for more.
    Happy cooking :)
    For a healthier recipe: ask someone else :)

  7. Wow! that sounds a fascinating if time-consuming method that I bet results in a really delicious scrambled egg. Will have to give it a whirl!