Single Minded Women Cooking School: Make the Perfect Omelette
By Fabiana Santana
Omelette (or omelet) making is one of the techniques learned in the esteemed French culinary schools around the globe. I say technique, and not recipe, because we are taught the fundamentals of cooking – the science and how to, rather than just the recipe. The goal is to master the lesson and create your own culinary profile. Julia Child once said, “Once you have mastered a cooking technique, you barely have to look at a recipe again.” And she is right. Take the omelet, for instance. There are countless recipes for this one dish: cheddar, western, Spanish, etc. But they all begin with the same technique. And while the idea of making an omelet may sound simple, there is a lot that can go wrong very quickly.
Here are the five steps to make the perfect omelette:
1- Have your ingredients ready.
The few seconds it takes to find a utensil or spatula is all it takes to burn your breakfast, so make sure all you need is ready and waiting.
2- Beat the eggs well.
Nothing destroys an omelet the way separated eggs do. Blocks of white or yellow in your final product are the tell tale sign that your eggs were not beaten properly and will result in an uneven omelet. Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk for between 15-35 seconds for the best results – you want them blended well – not too airy, so when you see a light froth, stop. And for every two eggs, use one tablespoon of liquid like water or cream.
3- Use a hot, oiled pan.
Ideally an omelet pan, but a small frying pan will do. A hot pan will ensure that the liquid added when mixing will turn to steam quickly and that steam will actually help cook the egg evenly. And an oil like corn, canola, or peanut have a high smoke point so they won’t burn as quickly as olive oil or butter will. *Julia uses butter, but since butter burns easily, using oil is best until you master this technique.
4- Move your eggs around.
When you first pour your raw eggs into your pan, a thin cooked later will be sitting under uncooked eggs. If you don’t move that top layer, you will wind up with a burned bottom and undercooked middle. So, once you see that form (right at about 25 seconds of cooking) use a fork or a spatula to move the eggs around in a light scramble so that the raw egg feels the heat. When the eggs are all somewhat cooked they will look somewhat like cottage cheese curds. Once you have that consistency, you can let it set up and take the omelet finish cooking through.
5- Add your filling.
Once your omelet is taking shape, add your filling to one side of the eggs so that you are able to fold one side over and on top of your filling. Spoon your filling (shredded cheese, chopped veggies, etc) onto half of the omelet and just to the edge, but not on it. Then using a spatula, fold the other side over the filling and let the egg settle down onto the filling. This will help to melt the cheese and also warm the rest of the filling ingredients. It is best to slightly cook any raw meat or hard veggies like peppers a bit before hand because they wont is cooked through otherwise.
Julia Child’s Recipe for a Classic French Omelette
- 2 or 3 eggs
- big pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- a mixing bowl
- a table fork
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Beat the eggs and seasonings in a mixing bowl for 20 to 30 seconds until the whites and yolks are just blended.
- Place the butter in the pan and set over very high heat. (If you have an electric heat element, it should be red hot.) As the butter melts, tilt the pan in all directions to film the sides. When you see that the foam has almost subsided in the pan and the butter is on the point of coloring, it is an indication that it is hot enough to pour in the eggs.
- Hold the panhandle with your left hand, thumb on top, and immediately start sliding the pan back and forth rapidly over the heat. At the same time – holding a fork in your right hand, its flat side against the bottom of the pan – stir the eggs quickly to spread them continuously all over the bottom of the pan as they thicken. In 3 or 4 seconds they will become a light, broken custard.
- Let the eggs continue to cook and after a few minutes, add your filling. Fold the other omelette side over the filling and using a spatula. Turn the omelet onto a warm serving plate, rub the top with a bit of butter, and serve as soon as possible.
Omelettes aux fines herbes: Beat a tablespoon of fresh minced herbs into the eggs before making the omelet (a combination of parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil for instance, for the herbs).
Omelette au cresson: Chop a small handful of watercress leaves and tender stems, and beat into the eggs before making the omelet.
Omelette au fromage: Have a bowl of coarsely grated Swiss cheese at your side. When eggs have settled in pan, and you have swished them once or twice, rapidly sprinkle on 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cheese; finish the omelet.
Omelette au lard et aux pommes de terre: Cut chuck bacon into half-inch dice, sauté to brown lightly, then add diced boiled potatoes and sauté together to brown; season to taste and keep warm. Proceed as for the cheese omelet.
Creamed mushrooms, creamed lobster or crab, chicken livers, etc.: Have these warm at your side – 3 to 4 tablespoons per omelet. Either proceed as above, or slit the top of the finished omelet, and spoon in the filling, letting it also act as a decorative top to the omelette.
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