Omelets: Something To Flip Over
Omelets savory and sweet, steal seductively into my kitchen. I have come to the Rubicon that though omelets play a starring role at breakfast or brunch as a rule, they are an ideal dish for an impromptu dinner, as the only essential ingredient is several eggs.
A Cinch in a Pinch
Omelets should be fundamental in any home cook's repertoire, due to their ease, quickness to prepare, and the democratic way they successfully team up with nearly any ingredient. Even with the kitchen the size of a closet, one range burner and a modest batterie de cuisine (skillet, mixing bowl, whisk, and spatula) you can have a comforting, wholesome, and creative meal.
Rubber Biscuit or Rubber Omelet?
Another reason to cook omelets at home is that its nearly impossible to get a good omelet at a restaurant. Most people's restaurant omelet experiences range from the undercooked-(what I call the "slippery special") to the overcooked-rubbery, bounce-of-the-plate omelet that's probably been sitting under the restaurant warming lamps for a few hours waiting...just for you.
There are three general schools of savory omelets: rolled (French-style), folded (a half-moon shape), and flat (round and open-faced).
The rolled omelet requires a shaking and stirring skillet technique that can take a lot of practice to master. The folded omelet is my personal favorite (see recipe below). The folded omelet has a slightly firmer texture and is more manageable than the rolled omelet. While the flat omelet, is open-faced and cut into wedges to serve. Examples of this omelet style include the "Italian Frittata" or the "Spanish Egg Tortilla," which is served as tapas (an appetizer, which can at times constitute as a light dinner) at Spanish bars and restaurants.
In addition to these omelet permutations, there are two other sub-categories of omelets (though not considered true "styles")"egg-white omelets" (excluding the egg yolk) for those people who are restricted to a low-cholesterol, reduced-fat diet. And "dessert omelets," which are typically subtly sweet soufflé omelets that are of the "folded" style (half-moon shape).
So grab your skillet and get cracking (please excuse the pun), 'cause your edible prize awaits you!
Master Omelet Recipe
Makes one omelet
1 tablespoon butter, preferably clarified or substitute olive oil
3 large eggs, place in a bowl and cover with hot tap water; let stand for 4 to 5 minutes
Scant ¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter in an 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or 8-inch skillet with gently sloping sides over medium heat. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the butter. The omelet pan should be hot but not scalding. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended. If you want to season the egg mixture further, do so now. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and tilt the pan around gently so that the mixture spreads evenly over the bottom. As the omelet begins to set, run the spatula gently around the edges of the omelet to loosen it. Using the spatula, carefully lift the edges of the omelet and tilt the skillet to allow the uncooked egg mixture on the surface to flow to the bottom. Let the omelet cook undisturbed, until it is almost completely set, 1 to 1-½ minutes, depending on desired consistency and temperature of skillet and eggs. When the bottom of the omelet is set and the top of the omelet is slightly moist, but not runny, add the filling (if a filling is desired). Gently spread the filling evenly on one half of the omelet. (Note: Do not stir the filling.) Slip the spatula underneath this half and lift it, folding it over the other half, in one fluid motion; the folded omelet should form a half moon shape. If you prefer an omelet with a slightly browned surface, let it sit in the pan once folded, for a few seconds. Using the spatula, invert the omelet (or flip it with the use of the spatula-yes, this takes practice; it's just like flipping a pancake) and slide it onto a warmed dinner plate so that the omelet is browned-side-up. If desired, ladle with a sauce, or sprinkle with a garnish, and serve at once. (Note: Traditionally, omelets are garnished with something that relates to the filling, but this does not need to be a hard-and-fast rule.)
While the variety of fast and easy fillings, sauces, and garnishes is endless, don't forget that for an even simpler omelet, just season the eggs with fresh or dried herbs and/or spices prior to cooking. Make sure that the ingredients you use to fill an omelet have cooled before using. Keep in mind that an omelet filling should complement the delicate flavor of the eggs, not overwhelm it. Here are some very speedy, one-step (no prior mixing or cooking involved) filling suggestions for savory omelets, all of which are available at the supermarket.
Shredded or crumbled cheese of any variety
Chopped ham or other cold cuts
Pesto (Italian basil sauce)
Cream Cheese (a variety of flavors are available)
Cottage Cheese (a variety of flavors are available)
Caponata (a Sicilian eggplant-based appetizer, available canned at the supermarket)
Olive Tapenade (an olive-based Provençal spread, available jarred at the supermarket)
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