Genius Recipes

Daniel Patterson's Poached Scrambled Eggs

By • May 4, 2012 • 46 Comments

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Every week, FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The 40-second egg, and the perfect Mother's Day bonding experience.

poached scrambled eggs

- Kristen

You may think there are a finite number—say, 6—ways to take your eggs. Breakfast is a multiple choice test, and diner waitresses and short order cooks aren't about to allow a write-in (not to mention busy moms and dads).

Sure, over time we've learned to improve upon the fundamentals, by frying eggs in olive oil or hard-cooking them judiciously rather than boiling their yolks out. But rarely has a new technique been rolled out, especially one that doesn't take 40 minutes. This one takes 40 seconds, give or take.

eggs!

It's all thanks to an off-duty chef who got bored, started tinkering, and reinvented breakfast—with the quickest and fluffiest scrambled eggs imaginable.

Adding to their mystique, they're also made without any fat at all (not that there's anything wrong with fat), and there's no crusty pan to clean. How could it be?

daniel patterson & family
photo: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle

This technique—a hybrid of poaching and scrambling—first came to San Francisco chef and writer Daniel Patterson out of necessity. As he explained in the New York Times Magazine in 2006, his then-fiancé made him throw away the Teflon pan he relied upon for scrambling, and he had to get resourceful.

draining egg whites

In the manner of the 6-minute egg and its variants, it's not such a stretch to call these 40-second eggs, because other than waiting for your water to boil, that's all the time they take. You barely have time to make toast!

scrambling eggs

Now pay attention: You beat your eggs while counting to 20, swirl the boiling water, then slip in the eggs, pop on the lid, and wonder what's going on in there.

vortex eggs poached scrambled eggs

20 seconds later, de-lidded, you have a poufed cloud of eggs, ready to be drained and seasoned to your liking.

In addition to being faster than many an ad experience on this very site, it's an exceedingly forgiving method:

• As written, Patterson's recipe uses four eggs and serves two, but you can always go with five eggs and invite a hungry friend; or two and dine alone; or one to fold into a killer breakfast sandwich.

• Patterson instructs you to drain away your thin egg whites (see above), lest they go skittering off in the water, but I've skipped this step with relatively fresh eggs and not regretted my laze.

• Depending on how you plan to dress them up, you can salt the water to taste without threatening the integrity of your eggs. Assuming you're serving them minimally, with just a ribbon of olive oil and sprinkle of flaky salt, go ahead and salt the water till it tastes like the sea, as you would for boiling pasta or blanching vegetables.

poached scrambled eggs

When Patterson occasionally serves them at his restaurant Coi, it's with vinegary grated radish, seaweed powder, radish flowers, and chicken jus infused with katsuobushi. Too much salt in the water would just get in the way.

But six years after stumbling upon the technique, Patterson most often poach-scrambles eggs at home, both for his buddies (like when René Redzepi and Peter Meehan came over to hang out for this Food & Wine article) and for his two young children (Louise, 16 months, and Julian, 3 1/2—see above!). And no wonder: it's the 40-second breakfast, after all.

poached scrambled eggs

It's as wondrous to kids as it is to adults, which makes it the perfect Mother's Day bonding experience (hint, hint). A grownup might need to handle the boiling water, but the kids can crack and whisk the eggs, butter the toast, and watch the magic unfurl from a safe distance. And, of course, trot it off to mom, with toast and coffee on the side.

Daniel Patterson's Poached Scrambled Eggs

Adapted slightly from the New York Times Magazine, "The Way We Eat: Which Came First?" (January 8, 2006)

Serves 2

4 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

 

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (46)

Tags: genius, Daniel Patterson, eggs, breakfast, Mother's Day

Comments (46)

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6 months ago Patty Khuly

If you have the good [great] fortune of having a couple score of insect-eating, hard-working hens in the back yard, these eggs never have to be drained. Just use that morning's eggs! Alternatively, your farmer's market will often label eggs as "fresh" (usually less than two weeks old). These work well, too! A strainer in the boiling water can also help you skip two steps here. Trouble is, it has to fit just right!

Stringio

7 months ago Ajay Jain

This looks pretty eggcellent.

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8 months ago dymnyno

It is a "fun" way to make eggs, but too precious. Just scramble the f***k eggs and be done with it!

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8 months ago Alex

Absolute Rubbish way of making eggs! Even with herbs & spices it was a bland mess that was nearly impossible to unload onto a plate. I could not get it out of the pot in one piece so I poured it into a strainer.. Clogged strainer! Took far too much time(as other commentators have said)the only way I saved this was a liberal dash of hot sauce, smoked salmon on English muffins w/cream cheese. Would have been much easier & taster to have just made my omelette in the pan as usual. {:~(

Stringio

12 months ago Elizabeth Jones

I love poached eggs. I place a smail amount of water into a custard size dish. Break 2 eggs into dish then place a small coffee cup sized saucer over bowl for a lid. Cook one minute 10 & secs in micro ! Remove with hot mitts ,strain remaining water from bowl by tilting over sink using a fork to not lose eggs. Then eat from bowl or slide onto a plate.

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12 months ago Val Burton

Making an omelet or scrambled eggs the Julia Child method..whisk whole eggs together and slide into a buttered or oiled preheated non-stick pan.Partially cook eggs, then add a little cream or milk and continue cooking by lifting the edge for an omelet or stirring gently for scrambled..until just cooked. If it's a omelet, fold it in half and slide onto a plate. Creamy and delicious!

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12 months ago Rhonda35

Best scrambled eggs recipe ever is on Food52 - it's called Merrill's Scrambled Eggs, I believe. Super easy and delicious - really, really delicious!

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12 months ago Anna C.

Listen, all of you guys eggs lovers, I am one too.
Here is my favorite recipe :
Beat your eggs well until very smooth like a cream. Take a double boiler. Once the water boils, take a wooden spoon and pour the eggs in the top container. No butter or oil necessary. Put the water on simmer and keep turning the eggs with that spoon. Do not overcook. Keep the mixture creamy and soft. Add a touch of salt at the end. You will have the best PURE TASTE of eggs. No addition of anything necessary !
Let me know after you try ... It will blow your mind and your palate !
I am French and this is how we do scramble eggs in the old country.
Anna C.

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12 months ago Bob Byrd

I've tried this 3 times. In the time it takes for the water to come to a boil you can scramble eggs the "regular" way, so it's not much of a time saver. The eggs taste bland to me, even with the addition of the olive oil and salt. Draining them is an extra step that only adds more time. Forty seconds my foot. Not worth the bother.

Stringio

12 months ago John Smith

horrible recep.

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about 1 year ago ross mcdonald

Instead of using milk or cream, try yoghurt

Ross

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over 2 years ago Jhazmine Ver

I really love scrambled eggs every morning...There's something that I always add in my scrambled egg..I add some mayo and creamer to make it fluffier and tastier! And my kids really love the taste of it! I've learned at www.gourmetrecipe.com . They have lots of exciting and interesting recipes for you to choose from! You can even watch its recipe videos and replay it again and again. Chow!

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over 2 years ago mainecoon

Sorry, but the way we executed these eggs we got reconstituted eggs, buffet-line eggs. I don't know what we did wrong!

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over 2 years ago Angela @ the well-worn apron

I love eggs just about every way ... except browned when scrambled. This recipe totally eliminates that problem. Just made this "for one". In an effort to save a few calories (food 52 blasphemy?) I used one full egg plus one egg white. I skipped the pre-cook drain step and whisked eggs for close to a minute. It worked great. Good olive, a little kosher salt, and a sprinkling of Maldon salt really help here. Served on a bed of lemony steamed spinach.

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over 2 years ago The Yumyum Lady

Wow, this looks like a lot of work to me and you end up with poached eggs; not really scrambled. If you like poached eggs this is probably much better tasting than traditional ones. But if I want scrambled eggs I want them to be really tender. A couple of years ago I saw Ina Garten add cream to her scrambled eggs and I've been hooked ever since. I just beat up the eggs, add a dash of cream (I use heavy cream), add a good pinch of Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a pinch of herbs de Provence. Quantities proportionate with the number of eggs you want to cook. Melt a good bit of butter over medium-high heat and stir gently with a rubber spatula until just set. Don't let them get dry. Maybe it takes a minute or 2 at the most, but you end up with scrambled eggs that melt in your mouth. Try them this way! You won't regret it.

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over 2 years ago Alexandra Bégin

I tried this trick this morning. My boyfriend and WE LOVED IT! It is officially my new favourite way to cook eggs!

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over 2 years ago Carrollmontreal

I read this recipe 20 minutes ago, went downstairs and made 2 eggs (all I had on hand). I drizzled on some olive oil and added a few flakes of sea salt and pepper. Divine! My husband came into the kitchen and I spooned him the last mouthful. He said, 'divine.'
There's no turning back now!

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over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I made these for breakfast. First of all they were fun! Second, it gave me a chance to use this great olive oil that I have. Third, toast and good butter. Perfect!

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over 2 years ago ramblinbob

More constructively, here's a better-tasting alternative for an egg sandwich: Gently fry an egg over easy in a dab of butter in a four-inch, steep-sided pan. The small pan needs only just enough butter for flavor and shapes the egg to sandwich size. Flip egg and almost immediately ease onto the bottom of any kind of round sandwich thin or small bread slice. Salt, pepper and cover with the other bread half for a tasty, runny fried egg sandwich. Eat over a plate!

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over 2 years ago ramblinbob

I hope it's obvious to everyone that where I said strained I meant drained! Strained scrambled eggs, now that would be something.

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over 2 years ago dymnyno

Funny that you mention strained scrambled eggs...I posted a recipe today that is just that and they are delicious! Current-vintage.com

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over 2 years ago ramblinbob

As soon as I read this I ran to the kitchen and made this with two eggs. I strained the whites before, as that's easy. Ran into four problems: 1) I'm pretty sure simmering (not boiling) water would work best. Eggs were kind of all over the place. 2) Could definitely have used some pictures/advice on draining the eggs. Made a mess in my fine strainer and lost integrity. Even strained, made a watery mess on the plate. 3) Going all out with the salt as recipe describes means you won't taste anything but salt. 4) Eggs are super bland. I know, salt, but where'd the delicious eggy flavor go? Seems like a dish for people who normally eat egg white omelets. I'll work on it, but first try wasn't a hit with me.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

ramblinbob, I'm sorry to hear that -- you might want to flip through the slideshow on the recipe page (linked above) to see the whole process illustrated. Draining can be a little tricky the first time. Thanks for trying them out!

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over 2 years ago wjm457

Genius is a stretch. No fat equals no flavor. No thanks.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

You might be surprised by the fluffy texture, and what finishing with olive oil and salt can do.

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over 2 years ago dymnyno

I agree with AJ about adding something like ricotta. I have made these eggs three times and each time I was disappointed with their blah taste.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I know what you mean, but you might consider upping the salt in the water and drizzling with a really flavorful olive oil next time (or some other delicious sauce).

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over 2 years ago dymnyno

I did add salt to the water and used my own estate olive oil. The salt and olive were delicious...the egg was a nice texture but no egg flavor.

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

That's so interesting because I had the opposite experience! I didn't expect much flavor but with just a pinch of salt in the water, I found mine tasted quite eggy, with a nice fluffy texture! I wonder what could cause the difference.

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over 2 years ago charlotte au chocolat

Tried this this morning and it was delicious (& fun!).

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Love hearing that -- thanks for reporting back!

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over 2 years ago Rhonda35

That hot bundle of cooking genius can make me poached scrambled eggs anytime! (Leave the wife and kids at home, please.)

Can't wait to try these eggs for Sunday breakfast.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

But the kids are so cute!

Mcs

over 2 years ago mcs3000

Never could make properly scrambled eggs until I read about Daniel Patterson's method in the F&W issue. Love how you described it, Kristen.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks so much, mcs3000. Patterson's are basically the opposite of Merrill's slowly scrambled eggs, in process and in outcome. I think both are really good. Have you tried hers? http://food52.com/recipes...

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over 2 years ago aquarius

Can't wait to try this. Sending to both of my kids!

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Great plan!

Kandm

over 2 years ago Kristy Mucci

Kristy is an expert at making things pretty and a former Associate Editor of Food52.

As soon as I get home from F52 HQ, I'm making this.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I love -- love! -- that 3 of our editors made these eggs yesterday. Props to Patterson.

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over 2 years ago Brette Warshaw

This recipe is so genius that I read this post, went into my kitchen, made the eggs, and got back to work!

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I've seen some people bust out genius recipes the day I post them, and I'm always in awe -- but you win the prize, missy.

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Making these tomorrow! Thinking a dollop of fresh ricotta and a few snippets of dew-kissed chives would be perfect with that drizzle of flavorful olive oil and pinch of Maldon salt . . . . . Hey, this is starting to sound like dinner tonight (without the dew, of course, but maybe a bit of freshly-snipped tarragon as well)! ;o)

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

How did you like them AJ? The ricotta and dew-kissed chives sound heavenly. And FOOD52 editors Kristy and Nozlee both made them for dinner last night, so you're spot on there too!

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yay! I love this method of cooking eggs. I've been doing this ever since I read that F&W article. I was intrigued, tried it, and haven't looked back. Great write up (as per usual) Kristen! The other recipes from the article are quite good too, but none give quite as instant of gratification as this one.

Miglore

over 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Glad to hear you're a fan too! Did you try them with the goat cheese sauce?

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yeah, though mostly I've had them plain, or with lox (yum). It was nice, but I actually like AJ's ricotta and dew kissed chives idea better! Perhaps because I can never say no to ricotta.