While brunch is basically a gay sacrament and thus something of a big deal in DC, there are times when breakfast is called for instead. Smaller, mellower, less boozy, and–oh yes–earlier, breakfast it not a meal I’m frequently involved with, unless you count a few bites of something leftover straight from the fridge while I’m trying to tie my tie in the still-dark of morning. Saturday, however, we had need of a breakfast, not a brunch.
A dear friend was swooping through town, and first thing on Saturday morning was the only place we elbow our way onto her dance card as she was in DC for only a day and a half. So, breakfast it was, and what better breakfast than scrambled eggs? Of course, not just any scrambled eggs, perfect ones, tossed with a vibrant mix of earthy mushrooms, pungent garlic scapes, and verdant asparagus. And since said friend was coming from six porkless months in Cairo, bacon. A big heap o’ bacon. Also, coffee, challah toast, and a pretty yogurt berry granola parfait. Perfect!
Of course, this means we need to discuss the proper approach to scrambled eggs. We want to avoid, at all costs, those buffet-bound, bouncy yellow clods swimming sadly in a steam tray of their own tears. Those are not scrambled eggs; those are nuggets of sofa cushion. Ech. Well-made scrambled eggs are a creamy mass with small, barely noticable curds that stays all together in a hot, silken heap till they’re eaten–which shouldn’t be long at all.
The critical key to good scrambled eggs is taking the time. Low, slow heat and a near constant stirring will result in luxuriously lush eggs. That’s really it. It doesn’t take that much longer that doing it the wrong way, and the difference between slow and fast is simply shocking. Hat tip to Mr. T for impressing this fact upon me early on in our relationship.
Additionally, I’ve found that eggs don’t need much more than a bit of water to loosen them up and a touch of salt and pepper prior to cooking. Save the milk or cream for your coffee. If you want to add solids to them, like the veggies here, do cook them separately and fold them in right before serving. This keeps the eggs from getting watery or turning all muddy.
Naturally, feel free to improvise with the additions. Had I not been serving bacon, I might have done tiny cubes of chorizo and well-cooked zucchini. Do be sure to have some sort of onion in the mix–shallots or leeks in particular.
Scrambled Eggs with Garlic Scapes, Mushrooms, & Asparagus
Yield: 4 servings
5 oz cremini or button mushrooms
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 oz garlic scapes (or 2 shallots, minced)
2 oz asparagus
1/4 c water
1 tbs unsalted butter
1/3 c fluffily grated (Microplane’d) Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Wipe down the mushrooms and trim their bottoms. Cut into roughly 2 cm pieces. Set aside. Cut the garlic scapes into short, 1 cm lengths. Set aside. Trim the bottoms off the asparagus and cut into 2cm lengths. Set aside.
Add the oil to a large frying pan and put on the stove at high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, till they’ve released their juices and browned, 6-8 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, wipe out the pan, and return it to the stove. Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter, garlic scapes, and a 1/4 cup water (or white wine if you’re feeling sophisticated this morning). Cook, stirring, till the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Add the asparagus and continue to cook till the asparagus is bright green and just barely crisp-tender. Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside. (You could do all this ahead and pop them in the fridge till needed.)
Break the eggs into a medium bowl, add 1/4 c water and season lightly with salt and pepper–about 1/2 tsp each, you’ll finish seasoning when they’re done. Mix with a fork to break up the eggs and make a homogenous mixture. The idea is to get things as evenly mixed as possible WITHOUT adding a bunch of air, so use a fork and some wrist action, not a whisk or an eggbeater.
Heat a medium frying pan (non-stick if you’ve got it) over medium–barely medium) heat, and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, pour in the egg mixture and cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, 6-8 minutes, or until the eggs will mound up in the pan but are still visibly moist. If the edges are cooking too quickly or large curds are forming when the bottom of the pan is scraped, turn the heat down a but and stir vigorously to break up any large pieces. When cooked, turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat.
Reheat the vegetables quickly, either in the pan they were cooked in or in the microwave, and fold into the cooked eggs along with the grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with hot buttered toast.