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Omelettes, Julia Child style

April 25, 2010

Alright, so Julia didn’t invent the concept of omelettes. However, once I found this video of her demonstrating how to do them easily and tastily, I had to try the method. Usually the way she does the eggs in the video are how I do my scrambled eggs, but instead of keeping the omelette whole, I break it up while it’s setting in the pan, and this makes really delicious, fluffy scrambled eggs.

Incidentally, if on the first attempt your eggs stick to the pan a little more than you had hoped, you can always make scrambled eggs, and they’ll be just as delicious, just not whole. The other upside to giving this method a try is that it takes little more than 2 minutes, 2 eggs, a tablespoon of butter or 2 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper. If you want you can throw some sliced mushroom or fresh delicate leaf herbs or chives in, but for the first time, it’s safest to just do the basic recipe then experiment once you’ve got that mastered. I’ve got some tips for adding these customisations below the recipe, and I would love to hear about any you have up your sleeve too.

Simple classic omelette

serves one

2 fresh, preferably free range eggs
a splash (about 1Tbs) water
about 1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
optional: finely chopped fresh herbs
about 1 Tbs knob butter or 2 Tbs oil

Heat a medium (Julia says 7″ or 17cm in diameter is ideal, with sides about 2″ or 5cm high) sized non stick or cast iron frypan on medium high heat.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs (you can just use chopsticks or a fork) with the water, salt and pepper just enough to incorporate the whites and yolks.

Add butter or oil to the pan, tilting the pan around to completely coat the pan in melted butter (or use a brush to distribute the oil around the pan).

Pour in eggs. The eggs should immediately cook on the bottom, forming a “skin” that will curl up on the edge of the pan. Swirl your pan in a quick, circular motion on the heat without letting the bottom completely set and certainly not letting the top set. Once the egg on top starts to look like it’s setting, jerk the pan away from you then quickly back to you, repeating this motion to flip part of the cooked side onto itself, keep doing this to form a log of sorts. Some of the egg may stick a little, but this should come off as you move the pan. Once your log is formed (and all the egg is attached to the log), flip the log onto a plate by tipping the omelette on (there’s an excellent demonstration of this in the video).

Sprinkle with fresh herbs, and serve with toast or chopped tomatoes.

Troubleshooting & tips

What if your eggs stuck to the pan even with vigorous shaking of the pan? If the heat was too high, the egg will have gone brown in a matter of seconds where it sticks to the pan. In this case, scrape the stuck egg off quickly with a spatula and turn your omelette into scrambled eggs. Alternatively, if the pan is completely dry this indicates not enough oil was used. Add a little more oil next time.

Add a little liquid to the eggs. The liquid helps to make them fluffy. Om.

Heed the advice about pan size and the number of eggs. If you try to do too many eggs at once you will get “leathery” omelettes where the outside is overcooked and the middle is soggy.

Delicious customisations

Herbs – I prefer to add these to the eggs while they are cooking so that all the herbs are distributed throughout the omelette. In this case I just sprinkle the herbs over quickly as soon as I pour the eggs into the pan. Favourites to add to eggs are chives, dill, chervil, parsley, basil, spring onions (scallions), tarragon, and thyme, always fresh.

Adding bits and pieces:

If you want to add mushrooms, slice them very thinly and cook them in a little butter or oil first, then add the Tablespoon of butter, then your eggs. Or if you want the mushrooms wrapped inside your omelette, cook them first, set aside, and add straight after pouring the eggs in. The same goes for capers, or brown onions (which really should be caramelised, or at least slightly golden). Raw red onion or green peppers, chopped finely and sprinkled on top or wrapped inside the omelette would work too.

Wet ingredients such as fresh tomatoes are best served on top of, or alongside, rather than in, omelettes. Same goes for creamy additions like mozzarella, sour cream or creme fraiche, which work best with herbs to cut richness. Pesto would also work better on top of eggs.

Cheese should be grated and added straight after the egg is added to the pan, except for maybe bocconcini. The best cheeses to use according the The Flavor Bible are feta, gruyere, havarti, parmesan andmozzarella. The same method applies for thinly sliced sundried tomatoes. Smoked salmon can be done this way too although I prefer it draped over the omelette, as I would with artichokes. Perfectly steamedasparagus also makes a refreshing companion.

What’s your favourite way to eat omelettes?

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