The omelet is to France as the hamburger is to McDonald’s.
As a young man, I spent a year studying in Paris. I blossomed like a dahlia in heat and furthered my culinary adventures. This is still the highlight of my life.
The omelet competes with many specialties common to the French palate. The beauty of an omelet is that with a slab of proper ripe cheese you can master a perfect meal, and by that I mean all three meals: breakfast, lunch or dinner. Simple and clean — therein lies the beauty of an omelet. Next to a baked chicken, nothing homemade can be much easier to prepare, nor tastier.
One requirement for success is a non-stick pan and a wooden (or silicon) spatula to avoid scratching the delicate pan surface. Others are heavy cream, fresh eggs and good butter — the three elements of the holy grail of a proper omelet. One last thing: the French prefer a yellow omelet, not one with brown skin.
Yesterday morning, my filling was diced ham, green onions, peppers, sausage and kale, all sautéed for just a few minutes in virgin olive oil, then refreshed with a tablespoon of homemade chicken stock and two ounces of butter. Chopped chives and Parmesan cheese are a perfect garnish. I chose Gruyere cheese but a sharp cheddar, brie or feta will finish off any omelet with panache.
I par-boiled yellow potatoes and then sautéed them in olive oil with a handful of fennel seeds, garlic, turmeric and smoked salt. I added fruit and my wife Laurie’s splendid sourdough rye toast with her quince jam as sides. During brunch, a long sip of Champagne will highlight this meal perfectly.
- 3 eggs per person
- ¼ cup of cream
- Kosher salt to taste
- Olive oil
Beat the eggs into a lather. Some chefs throw the eggs into a blender. The eggs will rise higher and lighter with this process. If you are cooking a cheese omelet, remember the cheese is salty. Adjust the salt accordingly.
After the egg mixture is added to the pan, wait until the eggs begin to lighten on the edges. As the eggs set up, pull the cooked eggs back into the center of the pan. Continue this process. As you pull the hardened egg to the center, tilt the pan slightly and move the liquid eggs under and around the egg mixture until all the liquid has solidified.
Keep it soft with no color. Now, flip your omelet and quickly turn off the heat. Enough heat remains in the hot pan to gently finish your omelet. Lay the filling atop the egg mixture, centering it. Touch the edge of the finished omelet on a plate and, while tilting the pan, allow gravity to fold the top half of the omelet over the filling and bottom half. Serve immediately with chosen sides.