Any chef or personal trainer will tell you that eggs are a perfect food. So why do they so often seem far from it? Clumpy, rubbery, even stinky – there's a long, sadly familiar list of ways they can go wrong. But the truth is, anyone can make ordinary eggs transcendent.
Imagine scrambled eggs so dense and smooth that people will wonder how much cheese and cream you added, even though the answer is none. Hard-boiled eggs that always come out tender, with bright, almost spreadable yolks. Poached eggs so delicate and runny, they're like sauce bombs you can drop on anything from salad to pasta to a rare, juicy steak.
One of the great lessons of food is that nothing is so simple it can't be made spectacular. Luckily, with eggs, the difference is just a matter of technique – and you can improve yours easily. Try these tricks, and from now on, you'll wow yourself every time you crack some shells.
All techniques are timed for large eggs, the most common size. Medium eggs will take less time, extra-large eggs slightly longer.
Everyone loves a fluffy pile of scrambled eggs, but you may never have seen anything like the luxurious, creamy eggs this technique will produce. They're the texture of melting cheese, so rich you'll wonder if your tax rate is going up. Since eggs firm up as they get hot, the point of this method is to heat them so slowly and cook them evenly enough that you suspend them in a perfect state between liquid and solid. Their identity crisis is your silky, buttery reward.
Take your eggs out of the fridge 15 minutes or more before cooking them. (Not necessary, but it really speeds things up.) Beat the eggs, just enough to combine the yolks and whites, with a few generous pinches of salt.
Heat a heavy nonstick pan over medium heat. Make sure it's big enough to stir comfortably in, but small enough that the eggs won't spread out too thin; you could even try using a saucepan instead of a frying pan. Drop in 1 tbsp of butter for every 3 eggs. When the butter starts to foam, turn the heat down to low. Pour in the eggs and stir immediately with a heatproof rubber spatula.
Keep stirring in little circles all the way around the pan, making sure you swipe every inch. It'll look like nothing's happening. Keep doing this for a long time – about 10 minutes for every 6 eggs, but your time will probably vary.
Eventually, the eggs will thicken. When they look kind of like soft polenta – almost custardy, but not liquid – get them onto a plate and serve right away.
Credit: Photograph by Aaron Graubart
These eggs are great with toast and something fresh to balance the richness, like a green salad. Or garnish with plenty of fresh herbs – chives add a heady aroma, but really, any will work – and eat with a salty slice of ham.