You can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg
See the lovely omelette in the photo above? This omelette is Big Papa’s first, cooked on September 13, 2009, in Yerevan, Armenia. He received a bit of coaching (moi) to help make his first attempt a success and, since that day, Big Papa has made his share of tasty omelettes. Many people are intimidated by omelettes, but if you can make scrambled eggs, you can make an omelette.
I love omelettes. Always have. I will eat an omelette at any time of the day. On our trips to Paris, omelettes were on the top of my “must try” food list.
I’ve heard foodies claim that a good omelette is the mark of a great chef, but even amongst great chefs, there is some debate about what constitutes a good omelette (and even whether it should be spelled ‘omelet’ or ‘omelette’). Should the omelette be allowed to brown (as in the French Country Omelette) or remain pure and yellow (French Classic Omelette)? Large curds or small? Add milk to the eggs or not? Just eggs, a bit of cheese or herbs—or—heartily stuffed with any number of fillings?
Answering these questions decides the fate of your omelette: French Country or French Classic. Neither style is better or more authentic—it’s a matter of personal preference. A French Country Omelette is made of large curds; milk is added to the eggs; it’s not sinful to brown the omelet (or the butter); the omelette is folded into a half-moon; and, any number of fillings can be added. A country-style omelette is a rustic, manly omelette.
A French Classic Omelette, on the other hand, is daintily rolled and creamy textured. Milk is not added to the egg; the curds are small; the omelette mush NOT brown; the omelette is rolled; and, only a minimum of fillings (a sprinkling of herbs or a small amount of cheese) are added.
Want to try your hand at omelette making, French-style? Well then, let’s get started!
First of all, omelettes should always be cooked in a nonstick sauté pan. An omelette pan is the best choice, because of the rounded corners and shallow sloping edge curved, but any nonstick pan will do as long as it’s round and between six and ten inches in diameter. Also, you should always use a heat-resistant rubber spatula and, for making the French Classic Omelette, and a fork (metal, or plastic if you don’t want to scratch your nonstick pan).
French Country Omelette
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons whole milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt (preferably Kosher or sea salt) and ground pepper, to taste
- Filling of your choice, optional (see below)
- Crack the eggs into a glass mixing bowl and beat them until they turn a pale yellow color.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt and foam (it is okay, for this country-style omelet, if the butter browns).
- Add the milk to the eggs and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Then, grab your whisk and work up a sweat. Your objective is to beat as much air as possible into the eggs.
- When the butter in the pan is bubbling and hot enough to make a drop of water hiss pour in the eggs. Don’t stir! Let the eggs cook for up to a minute or until the bottom starts to set.
- With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, gently push one edge of the egg into the center of the pan, while tilting the pan to allow the still liquid egg to flow in underneath. Repeat with the other edges, until there’s no liquid left.
- Your eggs should now resemble a bright yellow pancake, which should easily slide around on the nonstick surface. If it sticks at all, loosen it with your spatula.
- If you’re adding any other ingredients, now’s the time to do it. Spoon your filling across the center of the egg in straight line.
- With your spatula, lift one edge of the egg and fold it across and over, so that the edges line up, and the omelette has a half-moon shape. Cook for another minute or so, but don’t overcook (in fact eggs will continue to cook a bit when you turn your burner off).
- Gently transfer the finished omelette to a plate. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs if desired.
Note: A slightly browned omelet is not frowned upon when making a French County Omelette. This is not the case with a Classic French Omelette.
There’s no limit to the number of fillings you can use with this basic omelette recipe. Some suggestions include:
- Grated cheese
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Diced and sautéed onion
- Chopped cooked bacon
- Diced ham
- Lox or smoked salmon
And now, on to the French Classic Omelette…
French Classic Omelette
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon herbs, finely diced (the typical French omelet has four herbs: chervil, tarragon, chives and Italian parsley, and you can use any or all of these)
- 1/4 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely diced
- Pinch of Kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Gruyére, finely shredded (optional)
- Beat eggs thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Give it some moxie.
- Add herbs and sea salt. Beat until combined.
- In your omelette pan, over medium heat, melt unsalted butter, swirling the butter in the pan and wait until it foams (but doesn’t brown), and pour in the egg mixture.
- With your fork held flat (use plastic if you are concerned about scratching your nonstick pan), stir the eggs quickly (like you are scrambling them) as you shake the pan with your other hand. Do this some more. This will give you uniform, small curds. And this is how the delicateness of the classic omelette is born.
- When the egg mixture begins to set (but is still moist), use your fork to flatten the eggs a bit, and then angle the pan downward and use your fork (or spatula) to fold the top (thinner) edge of the omelette inward toward the center of the omelette, enclosing the thick, moist center. If you’re adding cheese, place it in the center. Fold in the bottom part inward, and press the fold into place creating a round edge. You want a creamy center, not a raw center.
- Run your fork between the edge of the pan and the far edge of the omelette to loosen the omelette. Then tap the handle gently where it joins the pan, to shake the omelette down lower in the pan and make it twist and lift onto itself. The lip of the omelette should rise above the edge of the pan. Fold this lip back toward the center of the omelette, meeting and overlapping the edge of the other lip.
- To plate, start by holding your serving plate, bang the underside of the pan against the counter (a chopping board is advisable) at the omelette end, so the omelette moves against the edge of the pan. Invert the omelette onto the plate. Press with the flat of the fork to shape the omelette into a point at each end.
- Serve right away!
And credit due to Jacques Pepin for the recipe. Voila! Classic French Omelette!
Want to ooh-la-la at more deliciousness? Check out Wanderfood Wednesday!