Saturday, July 13, 2013

Something From Nothing #14: The Perfect Two Egg Omelet


Eggs are a favorite ingredient of mine.  Not only are they delicious and versatile, eggs are also nature's perfect fast food.  A simple egg dish can be on the table in moments.  They even come prepackaged in individual servings for our convenience.  I always try to have a dozen or so on hand.

At risk of sounding overly dramatic, I'll go so far as to say that there is something slightly sexy about a well cooked egg. Think about how enjoyable a warm perfectly poached egg is atop a mound of subtly dressed fresh baby greens. Oh, be still my foolish heart!

Or how about a soft boiled egg perched in a ceramic egg cup, just waiting for you to carefully remove the top and dip a crispy toast soldier into the shimmering yolk? Oh yes please! I'll take two.

Eggs are pretty forgiving too.  Even if you look away for a moment and cook your morning eggs too long, just peel them and mix them with a good dollop of cold mayo for a sandwich everyone will love.

And what about a plate full of fluffy soft scrambled eggs?  Next to boiling water, this egg dish can be prepared by anyone.  Even if you are totally inept in the kitchen, scrambled eggs are pretty hard to mess up, just don't overcook them.

And then there are omelets (or omelettes).  When I was a kid there was nothing I loved more for breakfast than a ham and cheese omelet. I still think it is the perfect brunch food, and I enjoy an omelet for an easy supper every now and again.

The other day I breached my only hard and fast breakfast rule and ordered an omelet in a restaurant.  Knowing that almost all American restaurants totally ruin this dish, I long ago promised myself to never waste my money and pay $9.00 for a overcooked, rubbery, tough, egg half moon ever again.  Well, I was not surprised, true to form it was horrible, and the only thing new was that it cost me $10.00 instead of $9.00.

Fed up with this crappy omelet phenomenon sweeping the country, I came home and started doing my research for the perfect omelet.  I first watched videos featuring Julia Child and Jacques Pepin preparing their classic French versions. Julia's omelets took no longer than 20 seconds (how's that for fast food) and Jacques didn't take much longer, but he advocates stirring them at the very beginning to facilitate a more even cooking.

I read many definitions, descriptions and directions on how to make the humble omelet during my research.  The article that I loved the most stated that the perfect omelet was softly cooked on the outside and was slightly under cooked on the inside.  According to this article, the desired consistency on the inside was best described as that of dog slobber.  Sounds really gross, but I kind of get their gist.

After cooking several, I have decided that my ideal omelet lies somewhere between over cooked rubber half moon and dog slobber.  I also liked them both plain and with everything I could find to throw inside. Once you get this simple base recipe down, the possibilities are endless.  This is the perfect way to use up any leftovers you have laying around. 

I was lucky when I made this last one and had some leftover sautéed mushrooms, a little bit of Swiss cheese and an over abundance of herbs from my pots on the porch.  If you happen to have any extra grilled vegetables lying around, you are in for a real treat.

There may be a right and wrong way to cook an omelet, but there is no wrong way to fill one.  Bon Appetit!


The Perfect Two Egg Omelet

I totally agree with Julia here when she said that the secret is a really hot (non-stick) pan.  The perfectly cooked omelet should be a light yellow color on the outside with no brown whatsoever.  If it is brown, it is overcooked in my opinion.

2 large eggs
1 small splash of water (1 - 2 teaspoons)
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons butter or oil

Place eggs, water, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Whisk well to completely combine; set aside.

Place butter or oil into an omelet pan or small frying pan.  Melt butter over medium high heat, swirling it around the bottom and up the edges slightly.  Pour whisked eggs into the hot pan. Cook just a couple of seconds to let it start to set before stirring a couple of times to help it cook evenly.



After the eggs really begin to set (about 10 - 15 seconds longer), sprinkle desired fillings in the center of the omelet.  Quickly flip sides towards the center of the omelet.  Slide omelet onto a serving plate.  Serve immediately.

By the way, I tried several times to shake my omelet around in the pan like Julia and Jacques, but I just landed up making a big mess and losing about half my egg.  If you are successful doing this after watching the video, please let me know.

Makes 1 omelet.

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