While its origins are disputable, its savoury taste and simplicity, its nourishing value and appetising texture make it one of the most versatile dishes ever made.
Words: Denisa Rosca, Subeditor: Toni Hart
There is a certain art to making a perfect omelette. And to master such an art one must follow certain rules, guidelines if you may:
Rule number one: the ingredients you use, especially the eggs and the butter, must always be fresh – tips on how to test the freshness of an egg are in the infographic below.
Rule number two: reserve a pan for making omelettes. Just omelettes. According to Herman Senn, author of How to Cook Eggs and Omeletes in 300 Different Ways, the omelette pan must never be washed and it is best cleaned by heating it up and rubbing it with paper or a coarse towel and salt, then with a clean cloth.
Since Herman wasn’t around for the invention of non-stick Tefal pans, we’ll let this one slide. Just use a non-stick pan and make sure you don’t use forks or any other kind of cutlery that can scratch and damage its surface.
Rule number three: when making the egg mixture, use a fork to beat the eggs, not a whisk. The mixture doesn’t have to be frothy. You can add a splash of cream or milk while beating the eggs. Season moderately. Stay away from heavy spices.
Rule number four: one ounce of butter should suffice even for a six-egg omelette. Make sure the butter is hot before pouring the egg mixture into the pan.
Rule number five: an omelette must be cooked over a bright, brisk fire. Again, the pan must be well heated beforehand. Use a spatula to flip the omelette if you feel your techniques need improvement or you simply don’t want to risk seeing your meal splattered over the kitchen floor.
To turn out an omelette, hold the pan by its handle with the right hand, your palm facing upwards so that it’s underneath the handle. Have a clean plate ready in your left hand. Bring the outer edge of the pan close to the centre of the plate and turn the pan upside down to turn the omelette. If this fails, return to step number one…
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s look at a couple of recipes that are guaranteed to leave your mouth watering.
(Omelette aux fines herbes)
Take four or five eggs, one table-spoon-full of cream, some finely-chopped parsley, and a spring of chervil (French parsley), a pinch of sweet herbs, one ounce of butter, a small clove of garlic, salt and pepper.
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream and beat them up well then add the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cut the clove of garlic and wipe the inside of the pan with it. Melt the butter then pour in the egg mixture. Use a spatula to stir until the eggs begin to set, then roll towards the side of the pan opposite the handle, and give it the shape of an oval cushion. Let it get than light, sun-kissed brown, then enjoy.
Omelette a la Bonne Femme
Take six eggs, an ounce of bacon, a boiled potato (peeled), a breakfast roll, some chopped parsley, half a tea-spoonful of chopped chives, salt and pepper.
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them really well. Put some muscle into it. Add the parsley and the chives, a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.
Cut the bacon into small pieces, do the same with the thin crust of the roll, then melt the butter in a frying pan, fry the bacon until it’s slightly brown. Add the bread-crust, the potato cut into dice, toss over for a few minutes and pour in the egg mixture, stir gently with a spatula for about two minutes. Then fold up in the shape of a cushion. Serve it hot with two or three spoonfuls of tomato sauce poured round the base of the dish.
Omelette a la Milanaise
Take six eggs, three table-spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese, one table-spoonful cream, toasted bread, about half a cup tomato sauce and one and a half ounces of butter (this kind of contradicts rule number four- by half on ounce).
Break the eggs into a bowl, beat well then add a generous spoonful of grated Parmesan cheese. Follow with the cream, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Now try and divide the mixture into four equal parts. Melt some butter in a frying pan, pour in one part of the mixture and cook the tiny omelette.
Do this with the rest of the mixture then roll each tiny omelette in grated Parmesan cheese, and place them on an wide piece of buttered toast. Sprinkle some more cheese on top, place the bread with the omelettes on a baking sheet and throw in the oven for about two minutes. Add some piping hot tomato sauce to spice up the mix and voila, Omelette a la Milanaise.
These should get your taste buds wired. If not and you still find yourself dreaming of the perfect omelette recipe, make sure you have a look at Herman Senn’s 300 different ways to cook eggs and omelettes – a classic in the art of omelette-making.