I love to wake up early. I can linger over coffee and a little bowl of Overnight Oats while I get all my reading done—the New York Times, the New York Post, and the blogs that have aggregated overnight on my Feedly reader—write a bit, and finally, transcribe my Invictus programming, which sometimes requires time-consuming math to work out my barbell percentages. Like most people, I don’t respond well to an alarm, but I’ve learned to make rising pleasurable. I go to bed at 10:00 p.m., and I sleep with my windows and blinds open. First light and the sounds of an emerging day rouse me naturally. By 10:30 a.m., my head filled with news and ideas, I am ready to have my “real” breakfast, which on most days consists of some kind of meat, some green vegetables (spinach, zucchini, Brussels sprouts or cabbage), and eggs.
I have always liked eggs, even during the decades they were at the top of the no-no list. I ate them anyway, because it never seemed to me like there could be anything so wrong about eating a food that felt so right. Contemporary nutritionists have since exonerated (eggs-onerated?) them by recognizing that eggs are a perfect protein for training—they contain all twenty amino acids and vitamin B12, which helps maintain metabolism of carbohydrates.
For years, I almost exclusively poached one or two of them, perfecting a fat-free technique that requires several kitchen utensils and some careful monitoring to get them just right. Occasionally, I would make them into an omelet and fill it with vegetables and meat. But I almost never scrambled them, and only then when I was hosting a crowd, because I could never seem to get the combo of pan size, temperature and relative number of eggs working together before they became tough, leathery, and lost their essential egginess. Then I watched how Gordon Ramsay prepares scrambled eggs.
He treats his eggs delicately—no brisk whisking in a bowl, no sprinkle of salt while still raw, no butter heating up separately in the pan. Constant stirring, heat alternating with no heat, a healthy pat of butter, and a finishing dollop of crème fraîche. What results is creamy, delicate, delicious. It’s like spending your life stargazing in Central Park, and then seeing the night sky in Wyoming—the same raw materials, but a world of difference in between.
How I make them:
I break four eggs into a cold, heavy-bottomed pan, then add a good chunk of butter—Kerrygold is the brand I prefer. Using a rubber spatula, stir together over low heat until the butter melts, then move off the heat for a few moments, stirring constantly. Move back onto heat, removing occasionally if the eggs start to cook too quickly. Never stop stirring. Just as the eggs start to set, remove from heat and continue to stir for a moment. Then add a (totally optional) spoonful of crème fraîche, some sea salt and pepper, chives if you have them, and stir to combine.
I can’t remember the last time I poached an egg.