French-Style Scrambled Eggs

The French method of scrambling eggs is called oeufs brouillés or a brouillade. No other way of scrambling eggs achieves as superb a texture and flavor. The eggs are cooked slowly over hot water and incorporated with a good deal of butter and a little fresh cream, giving them an ethereal texture and flavor quite unlike the rubber-mat, dry “egginess” of short-order scrambled eggs.

Black-truffled scrambled eggs, first served to me by Richard Olney (in a house perched in an old, terraced olive grove above the village of Solliès-Toucas, near Toulon), are my all-time favorite version of this dish. With those eggs, we drank a tired old Bordeaux, making a memorable marriage of the wine, the eggs, and the earthy, fallen-leaves perfume of the truffles.

If the truffle is frozen, cut it into thin matchsticks while still unthawed, and put them in a bowl. Add the eggs and leave unbeaten, covered, at room temperature for two hours before proceeding, to absorb the flavor of the truffles. You will need to use a hot-water bath.

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Ingredients

  • ounces black truffles
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cold heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 4 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Coat the bottom and sides of a 2-quart saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the room-temperature butter.

Beat the eggs until just well mixed, add the seasonings and the remaining soft butter, and put into the saucepan. Put the saucepan in the hot-water bath and stir the eggs with a wooden spoon for about 8 minutes, making sure to scrape all the surfaces of the pan, especially the corners. Never stop stirring or let the eggs stick to the pan. If the eggs get too hot and start to thicken too quickly, remove the pan from the water for a minute or so.

When the eggs are nearly done, stir in the cream and cook 30 seconds more. Turn off the heat and stir in the chilled butter; this will stop the cooking and enrich the texture and taste of the eggs.

Spoon the eggs onto four hot plates and serve immediately with nonsour country bread or grilled brioche.

Variation

I have taken those truffled eggs and made a three-layer “napoleon”—using toast, riot puff pastry. The center layer is a creamed puree of salt cod or a puree of smoked salmon or sturgeon.

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