Do you want to know how to make an omelette? You should!
From Escoffier to James Beard there is probably no ingredient, more highly revered by chefs, than the humble egg. Back in the day, Chefs had aspiring cooks prepare them an omelette to test their capabilities in the kitchen. If they passed the test, it meant they had that “chef’s intuition,” deeming them teachable. At least that was the case back when I was in culinary school and apprenticing.
The heat of the pan, the amount of butter used and the technique of rolling and folding a true omelette takes finesse. It’s simple and difficult at the same time.
First, you have to have the right pan. I use an 8” non-stick classic fry pan. If you want something a little sexier you can use a seasoned French skillet made of carbon steel. Something with rounded sides…you’ll need that for the folding part.
James Beard will tell you to use two and a half eggs per omelette. I don’t know anyone who has a half an egg lying around, so I recommend three. I often eat breakfast alone, so I’m working with a single portion recipe here. Whisk your eggs with some fresh herbs (I like chopped thyme and parsley), a couple cracks of fresh black peppercorns and a hefty pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand if you want to look like a pro).
You’ll need butter…real butter of course…the good stuff. A tablespoon will seem like too much, until you use less and wish you had used more. Your pan must be hot, but not too hot. When the butter touches the surface, a bubbly sea type foam is what you desire, being careful not to let it brown. Just when you fear your butter may turn on you, pour in the eggs. This is where living in Hawaii has come in handy…I always have wooden chopsticks lying around. I grab a pair and whisk, whisk, whisk like the devil is chasing me, shaking my pan back and forth to create frantically fine ribbons. Once the eggs take on an appearance that looks less like something I’d sneeze into a tissue and more like a soft, creamy scramble, I take my chopsticks and draw a circle around the circumference of the pan, peeling the omelette away from the sides. Thin wispy edges reveal themselves and I know it’s time to start rolling.
Quickly, I grab a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano (I know….NOT so French of me. I have a thing for Italians…) and a microplane and make it rain all over the surface of the eggs. Drop that, pick the chopsticks back up and tilt my pan towards me while I lovingly encourage the edge of the omelette that’s closest to me to make its way over to the other side in the form of a burrito.
This is the test––when you find out if your pan was too hot or not hot enough, and whether or not your pan has been properly cared for. If the omelette rolls without sticking, you exhale for the first time since dropping your eggs in the pan, and continue to roll it right out of the pan on to a plate where I like to finish it with a dash of Aleppo Pepper for spice and smokiness. Grab a fork, and a glass of champagne, if you got it on hand, and sit back and savor one of the most simple and refined dishes on earth.
Ever attempt an omelette? What has your experience been? Tell us about it in the comments section. And if you liked this post I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.