If there’s one thing you should know about Naomi Pomeroy, it’s that the woman loves eggs. Can’t get enough of ‘em. I know this because I spent a lot of time with her, helping write her new cookbook, Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking (Ten Speed Press, $40), which has an entire chapter dedicated to eggs that opens with the line, “Eggs might be my favorite food.” Pomeroy cooks food that’s French-ish, and a little refined, and she’s not big into counting calories. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that her recipe for scrambled eggs is unabashedly luxurious, involving butter, heavy cream, and half and half. The eggs are slow-scrambled for maximum creaminess and topped, for good measure, with both herbed crème fraîche and caviar, because there is no more indulgent combination in this world than eggs on top of other eggs.
Pomeroy likes to tell a story about these scrambled eggs, involving the legendary French chef Daniel Boulud and a chefs-only after-hours party at a food festival in Miami. “Let me set the scene,” she says. “It’s 3 a.m. and we’re at this party at a rental house in Miami. Everyone there is a chef, and we’ve all been working 17-hour days. I’m wandering around with my sous chef, and who should we come across but Daniel Boulud, who’s in the kitchen wearing an apron and whipping up these beautiful eggs. He’s spooning them into directly the mouths of passerby, straight from the pan, topping every bite with a huge hunk of caviar before he pops it into your mouth.
“He was by himself, just humming and whisking and flirting the way he does with everyone, and to me, as a young cook, I found it completely charming. He could have made anything, but he chose to make eggs because they’re so nourishing and the perfect vehicle,” she says. “It speaks so clearly to that chef mentality that hospitality never ends—that feeding people is life’s greatest pleasure.”
There is also something in Boulud’s decision to serve scrambled eggs, and not pancakes or French toast or pizza, that speaks to the comfort of the food itself. Eggs are, as Pomeroy puts it, nature’s most perfect food: They are entirely comfortable being themselves, but also serve as a blank palette for countless other flavors. Eggs can add either levity or depth, swing savory or sweet, and feel equally appropriate for breakfast or dessert. They are arguably given the most space to show off first thing in the morning, when they are placed center stage in scrambles, skillets, benedicts, and more.
In this recipe, great care is taken with the eggs to ensure that they live up to their extravagant potential. They should be allowed to come to room temperature before doing anything, so that they cook evenly, and it’s highly advisable to use the freshest eggs possible—this recipe has so few ingredients that each one really shines, so take care when shopping.
They’re then enriched with half-and-half and slowly, slowly scrambled in butter over very low heat, to ensure that they don’t become rubbery or hard. “You just have to be attentive during this recipe,” Pomeroy says. “Be in tune with what’s happening in the pan—if your stove is too hot and the eggs are cooking quickly, move it off the heat. And when they’re done—or better yet, just a few seconds before—a get them out of the hot pan immediately, so they don’t overcook.” The finished eggs should be soft and creamy, with a slight sheen to let you know they haven’t dried out.
The crème fraîche melts slightly into the finished eggs, making them even softer and richer than before. The finishing touch—caviar—is optional, though it adds an undeniable element of glamour to a dish that elevates the simple egg to its most beautiful form.
Soft Scrambled Eggs with Caviar and Herbed Crème Fraîche
- Yields: 2 servings
- Total Time: 10 minutes
In a small bowl, stir the heavy cream into the crème fraîche to thin it. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat vigorously but carefully with a fork. Try not to make any foam, which creates edges that stick up around the sides of the pan and overcook. Stir in the salt, pepper, and half-and-half.
The key to soft scrambled eggs is low heat, allowing the eggs to settle into themselves, and gentle and patient stirring. In a 10-inch nonstick sauté pan, warm the butter over low heat until completely melted and just beginning to make a tiny bubbling sound in the center of the pan, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and let them rest undisturbed for about 30 seconds, then give them a brief stir with a flat-edged wooden spatula. Let the eggs settle for about 30 seconds more, then stir again. Continue to stir gently; for smaller curds, stir a little more frequently, for larger curds, stir less often.
After about 2 minutes, the eggs will begin to gather in the bottom of the pan. They are ready after 4 to 6 minutes, when they’re mostly set but still have a very slight moist sheen; the timing depends on how low you’ve set the heat (this varies greatly from stove to stove). The eggs should be removed from the heat when they are just a shade undercooked; they will finish cooking on the plate from the residual heat.
Divide the eggs between two plates and top each portion with one-half of the crème fraîche and one-half of the caviar. Garnish the plates with the chives and serve immediately.
Herbed Crème Fraîche
- Yields: 1 cup
- Total Time: 15 minutes
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, shallot, and salt and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sharp shallot flavor to mellow.
Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl and stir in the parsley, chives, and tarragon. Add the shallot mixture and the lemon zest and mix well. Season with the pepper, then taste and adjust with more salt and pepper if needed.
Reprinted with permission from Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.