Omelette-related injuries to date: 3 including 1 bruised ego
I knew this was coming; you knew this was coming; so let’s do this. Let’s shake n’ bake some freaking omelettes! I missed the kitchen so last month, I asked to get staffed on Sunday brunch, which was just getting started at l’École. I remind myself of this every time I want to beat myself with an omelette when a 5-top sits down, all wanting omelettes at the same time. I’m exaggerating of course (what? me? noooo…), things aren’t that bad on the omelette station… anymore. Luckily, volunteer cooks are literally pushing each other out of the way for the opportunity to sling omelettes for Sunday patrons. Nooo problem, I will gladly step aside! But before people were forming a queue to make colorless, glossy omelettes, I suffered through a lot of omelette rolling. Just self-deprecating? Nope. After my first day, the Exec Chef on duty told me the following: “When I worked at a 3 Michelin star restaurant and we were in the weeds, we’d draw 3 stars and then cross them off every time we put out a bad plate. You have no stars.”
Well, there’s only one response to that: “Thanks, Chef.” Then you get your butt home and you start making omelettes like it’s your… well… job. I ate a LOT of eggs to figure out the following tips and I’m sure I’ve got the cholesterol to prove it. Actually, since I started this post this morning, I’ve eaten about 6 eggs, a good cup of grated gruyere, half an onion, and like 2 quarts of arugula. After this, I hope you, too, start making colorless omelettes (maybe not 6 eggs at a time), just because you can.
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 t salt
– freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
– splash of cold water
– 1 T canola oil
– 1/2 T butter
– 1/2 c sautéed sweet onions, plus a little extra to top your omelette with
- Heat non-stick omelette pan over medium heat. Make sure pan is heated through.
- Swirl oil in pan and then add butter, again swirling around the pan while it foams and melts. At this point, don’t walk away to see what to do next because the milk-solids in the butter will burn. If your me, you may say “screw it” and keep trying to make your omelette, but it’s going to be browned and you’re going to get “no stars” from your chef.
- Once the foam has dissipated and the butter and oil are translucent in the pan, go ahead and add your eggs. Using a heat-resistant rubber spatula (Important! Yeah, I’ve melted a few spatulas in my life), stir the eggs in the pan making sure to scrape the bottom and sides so your eggs don’t burn or dry out on the edges. While stirring, agitate the pan like you’re making circles on top of the stove with it in the opposite direction that you’re stirring. Remember that game where you swing your arms in opposite directions and the kid that can’t do that cracks everyone else up for a good 5 minutes? Same principle. I usually lift the pan off the heat or change to different burner if the eggs start to set too quickly. Bang your pan on the range a few times (not like hammering, just pick it up and let it drop) to help fill out any air bubbles that have formed on the bottom of the pan. At this point, your eggs should look like a little cumulus cloud with a flat bottom and fluffy top.
- When your eggs are still runny, but have scrambled a little so they’re fluffy, scrape your sides again and then tilt the pan away from you, allowing some of the runny scramble to slide to the far, concave side of the pan. You’re basically making a little pocket of delicious runny scramble. Turn the heat down to as low as it will go before blowing out. I have an old gas range and you can literally hear me cursing and losing it as it blows out for the eighth time – going straight from medium to pure gas.
- Technically, you’re supposed to put your fillings (gruyere and onions in this case) into the pocket that you created. However, I like to put my filling more towards the middle of the pan, the reason being that I’ve accidentally spilled filling out of the pan many times while flipping the omelette onto my plate. You probably can fill the pocket though…
- Starting from the handle edge of the pan, use your spatula to delicately fold 1/3 of the omelette towards the center. Use your spatula to make sure that the bottom of the omelette isn’t stuck to the pan. Then agitate the pan to shimmy the omelette to the far side of the pan so that the opposite end lifts up and out of the pan.
- Now, change your grip on the pan so that your hold the handle with your palm up, as close to the pan as possible (remember to use a towel our pot holder, please… very hot… very very very hot). So your pinky is close to the actual pan and your thumb is towards the end of the handle – think bicep curl. Oh man, I just started laughing ridiculously hard at the thought of ME doing a bicep curl. Now, rest the edge of the omelette that you shimmied up and out of the pan onto the plate so that the bottom of the omelette edge is now on touching the plate. Tip your hand over so that your palm turns over, facing down, and the omelette rolls out of the pan and onto the plate.
- If you need to, use a clean, lint-free towel to help you delicately pinch the omelette into a rolled, almond shape. “Lustrer” with butter, which basically means spread a little butter on top so that it melts and coats the omelette, making it shine. Sprinkle a little onion on top.
- Serve with a some thick slices of whole grain toast and a little baby arugula salad. I love sherry vinaigrette with grainy, pommery mustard… Well, I got carried away, made too much, and then dumped it on a small amount of arugula, meaning that I had to empty more and more arugula into the bowl to sop up vinaigrette. Please learn from my mess and just add enough dressing to delicately coat your tender little salad greens.
Oh yeah, one more thing… I top my salad (and just about everything that I can) with these little Italian semi-dried cherry tomatoes preserved in sunflower seed oil. I warn you now – these little bastards are addictive. My dealers are Lou & Sal Di Palo of Di Palo’s Fine Foods. I only have a small jar now, but I try and buy these by the gallon (that’s not a joke). Right now, I have so few that I gently pick up a couple with a fork and toss it on salads, but usually I grab handfuls and throw them into EVERYTHING – on top of pizza, into my bolognese sauce, ground up into a bloody mary… Oh, and here’s another little warning, you’ll go into Di Palo’s for one thing and you’ll come out with a bag of delicious pecorinos, salumi, etc. And they’ve ALWAYS been well-priced, not just because of the recession.
I need to go finish the rest of my arugula salad… Happy omelette making!!!