How to Make an Omelet
If there is just one food a person should learn to cook, I would recommend learning how to cook anything with eggs. If you can cook an egg, be it fried, scrambled, poached or hard-boiled, you can give yourself endless varieties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eggs are versatile and inexpensive, and easily provide a satisfying, high protein meal. One of my favorite breakfasts is, scrambled eggs with a side of fresh chopped tomatoes and spinach, drizzled with truffle oil: A bright and fresh taste combined with the indulgent smell and flavor of truffles. It is a great way to start one’s day. An egg is a perfect food and one that I am pleased is off the Do Not Touch list.
It is intriguing to me that this humble food arouses such debate about one’s skill as a chef. Rumor has it that one’s omelet making skill has either squashed or jump started a chef’s career, (Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton). My research shows that there are various omelet cooking techniques. One can add milk, water, heavy cream, cook on low heat, high heat, scramble, pull, tilt, and whack your way to omelet perfection. I believe that something so fundamental should be less complicated and intimidating.
“The egg can be your best friend if you give it the right break.” Julia Child, The French Chef episode, “Elegance with Eggs”.
Fortunately for me, my introduction to making omelets did not involve the intimidating classic French technique, but a more relaxed version of pulling the eggs away from the side of the pan and allowing for the liquid to easily flow into the emptied space. This introduction was generously taught to me when I was around 9 years old.
As I remember it, one morning I walked into the kitchen and saw Aunt Bunty at the stove making herself an omelet. I headed over to her as if being pulled by a magnetic charge. Aunt Bunty welcomed me and began to explain each step while she cooked her omelet. She appeared so confident and relaxed I believed making an omelet would be easy. I was mesmerized from watching her skilled and quick hand gestures as she flipped the omelet over. After she finished, Aunt Bunty surprised me by handing me her fork and said, “Your turn”.
Up until that moment I had very little stove top cooking experience. For the most part any cooking experience I had, was playing with my Easy Bake Oven and recipes from the “back of the box” mixes. This lesson would introduce me to the real, not play, cooking territory.
Cautiously, I began whisking the eggs with the fork she had given me. I felt in control while I poured the eggs in the pan, then pulled the eggs across it, making room for the uncooked liquid to slide into place. As the time to flip the omelet approached, I became terrified that I would spill on the floor. I positioned the spatula, ever so focused to succeed, I repeatedly said a silent prayer, “Do Not Spill the Omelet, Do Not Spill the Omelet…”.
It all happened in an instant as I looked and saw a solid egg pancake, positioned mostly in the pan. I remember feeling more relaxed, believing I had completed the hard part and the fun part was beginning. I sprinkled the omelet with cheese and folded it along with the guiding eyes, hands and instruction from Aunt Bunty.
Do you remember cooking something for the very first time and so full of pride you believe it is the very best thing you EVER ate? This omelet made me dance. I was ecstatic with this new knowledge. To me this was magic; a special trick and adult skill that I just learned. This lesson allowed me into the “grown up” world of cooking. So long Easy Bake Oven, I have graduated. I forever felt connected to Aunt Bunty in the way that only a spontaneous shared experience can bring.
No matter what age, starting out on your own is daunting. Learning to cook is no different. Having the skill of making a meal, such as an omelet, can help out with any transition be it work, school or learning how to cook. There will come a time when friends and/or family members will put out a call to action for the in-house “chef” to satisfy a hankering of a home cooked anything. The person, who can satisfy this need, usually reaches celebrity-nobility status for life.
Your friends might not remember your record-breaking accomplishments throughout your tenure in college or successful career, but they will remember your late night comfort food and thank you for it. An omelet is a great place to start. If you can only cook one thing, make it with an egg.
Here are two omelet recipes: Cheese Omelet, and Fresh Herb Omelet with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper. The cheese omelet is a budget friendly and beginner option. Any good melting cheese, like Monterey Jack, Cheddar or Swiss, will work. I used pepper jack cheese and loved it.
The fresh herb omelet with goat cheese and roasted red pepper is inspired by a Barefoot Contessa episode “Fines Herb Omelet”. It is a creamy and luxurious omelet. Fines herb is a french term for the fresh herb combination of tarragon, chervil, chives and parsley. Unfortunately, I cannot get chervil at any market around me so I usually use what ever fresh herbs I have at home. Use equal amounts of fresh herbs in any combination of 2 to 4 fresh herbs to your liking. Great combos are: 1)basil and parsley (you could also add mint), 2)chives, tarragon and parsley, 3) Fines Herbs, 4) dill, 5) whatever suits your taste.
How to Make a Cheese Omelet
A step by step guide for how to make a one serving cheese omelet.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 oz grated cheese (Any good melting cheese will do, I used jalapeno pepper jack cheese in the photo, but Swiss, cheddar, monetary jack cheese will work)
- 1/2 Tb butter or olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Mise en Place
In a small bowl whisk the eggs until they are completely combined. You want to have the egg whites thoroughly mixed in with the egg yolks.
Mise en place: Assemble all the prepared ingredients, cooking pan and utensils that you will need.
The actual time it takes to cook an omelet is very quick, a couple of minutes, so everything needs to be ready and at your side.
I use an 8-inch frying pan when I make a 2-egg omelet. If you use more eggs, use a 10-inch frying pan.
Use a fork, wooden spoon or heat proof rubber spatula to cook the omelet.
Cooking the Omelet
Heat your frying pan on medium high heat and melt the butter. When the butter is melted swirl it around the pan, so it evenly coats the bottom and sides of the pan.
Pour the egg mixture into the center of the pan. Let the eggs set up for a few seconds, then using your cooking utensil, (spoon, fork, or spatula), start at the edge of the pan and pull the eggs towards the center. If need, use the handle to slightly tilt the pan to help guide the egg liquid slide into the empty space. Repeat this step 3-4 times, going around the perimeter of the pan and eggs to get the eggs set.
Before the eggs are completely cooked through, run your rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to make sure the eggs are loose and not sticking. Then slide a medium size spatula under the eggs at one side and flip the omelet over like a pancake.
Sprinkle the grated cheese over half of the omelet and turn off the heat.
Fold the omelet in half, using your spatula lift the side of the eggs without the grated cheese, and fold it over onto the cheese side of the omelet. Let it sit in the pan for a moment to melt the cheese. Then using your spatula, slide the omelet onto your serving plate.
Sprinkle the omelet with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
I prefer to make an individual omelet with two eggs verses a larger omelet with more eggs and for more portions. The one portion omelet cooks quickly and more thoroughly. If you want to make larger omelet you should use a 10-12-inch skillet, (depending on how many eggs), and possibly not flip the omelet over like a pancake, just fold the omelet in half. A larger sized omelet will be more fragile and it could rip. Once folded in half the eggs will continue to cook while the cheese melts.
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