Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Scrambled eggs in camp

I find scrambled eggs in camp to be an easy process. You can cook the perfect eggs every time by following a few simple rules. The key is to use the right skillet, control heat and stop cooking at the right time.

I start with two large eggs per person at camp at the beginning of each session. We serve scrambled eggs four times during each two-week session. I crack more or less eggs for the next egg breakfast, based on camper acceptance.

The campers at Deer Crossing Camp generally won't eat more than two eggs each. Crack more eggs if you have a group of hearty eaters. I found that 10 dozen was good for the 65 campers and staff during Session 2.

I cracked 12 dozen for the session's first breakfast on Monday, July 6, 2009. After watching campers dump leftover eggs into the garbage, I reduced the number by two dozen. Sessions 2 and 3 ate closer to two eggs per person.

Crack the eggs into the appropriate-sized bowl or bowls. Whisk to combine. Season each dozen large eggs with 1-cup milk, 1-teaspoon salt and white pepper to taste. Whisk to incorporate milk and seasonings.

I like to cook scrambled eggs in a cast iron skillet. While you can use any heavy skillet with a thick cooking surface, I find cast iron to be a good conductor of heat. And with a well seasoned skillet, you won't have any problem with sticking.

Heat the skillet over medium heat until a layer of butter sizzles lightly in the bottom of the pan. Don't over-heat the skillet as this leads to scorched eggs.

I prefer to cook the eggs at a lower temperature than what's recommended by many recipes. I find that I get better quality control.

Pour the eggs into the skillet once it's heated. You should hear a light sizzle. Too much sizzle means that the skillet is too hot. This is where practice will help. About four- to five-dozen large eggs will fit inside a 17-inch Lodge skillet.

Using a steel or wood spatula, gently pull the spatula across the bottom of the skillet. Let the spatula glide. Apply too much pressure and you'll pick up the layer of overcooked eggs on the bottom. The goal is to release newly cooked eggs into the liquid mass while leaving any crust behind.

Watch the heat during cooking. Lower the temperature if the eggs are cooking too fast. Conversely, increase the flame is the eggs aren't cooking fast enough. Again, experience counts here. It takes upwards of 20 minutes to cook a 4- or 5-dozen batch of scrambled eggs in a large skillet.

Cook the eggs to the soft-set stage. A digital thermometer should read between 165 and 170 degrees F. The eggs will continue to cook for the first 10 minutes the skillet. I find that eggs with a slight undercooked appearance will be perfect by the time they reach the table.

While you can cook then to medium-set (about 175 degrees) your group is squeamish about soft eggs, I don't recommend going much further than medium-set. No one appreciates dry, overcooked eggs.


This recipe comes from Food For Fifty. This recipe varies slightly in amounts than my recommendations. It gives you a good, basic recipe to start, plus some variations.

8-1/3 pounds eggs (about 75 total)
1-1/2 quarts milk
2 tablespoons salt
8 ounces margarine

Break eggs into mixer bowl. If using frozen eggs, defrost. Beat slightly on medium speed, using wire whip attachment.

Add milk and salt to eggs. Beat until blended. Refrigerate mixture, removing small amounts as needed.

Melt margarine in fry pan, griddle or steam-jacketed kettle. Pour in egg mixture (see notes). Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until of desired consistency. Eggs should be glossy and 165°F. Serve with No. 10 dipper.


Potentially hazardous food. Hold uncooked mixture below 41°F and cooked eggs above 135°F.

Breaking and pooling large quantities of shell eggs is not recommended.

Use pasteurized eggs when scrambled egg mixture must be held longer than 2 hours.

The type of equipment used will determine batch size. Eggs should be cooked in small batches and held for a minimum amount of time before serving.

STEAMER METHOD. Melt 4 ounces margarine or butter in each of two steamer or counter pans. Pour egg mixture into pans. Steam for 6-8 minutes at 5 pounds pressure until desired degree of hardness is reached.

OVEN METHOD. Melt 4 ounces margarine or butter in each of two counter or baking pans. Pour egg mixture into pans. Bake approximately 20 minutes at 350°F, stirring once after 10 minutes of baking.

For lower cholesterol, egg whites may be substituted for half of the whole eggs.


Scrambled Eggs and Cheese. Add 1-pound grated cheddar cheese.

Scrambled Eggs and Chipped Beef. Add 1-pound chopped chipped beef. Reduce salt to 1 Tbsp or less.

Scrambled Eggs and Ham. Add 1-1/4 pounds chopped cooked ham. Reduce salt to 1-tablespoon or less.


  1. When I have to crack large number of eggs. I have my crew crack them over a large SS colander fitted inside a SS pot. Using a whisk to break the yolks and push the eggs through the colander catching any missed shells. Nobody likes "eyeballs" or crunchy eggs.

  2. You have to remember that we're professionals ... we don't get shells in our eggs!