Friday, September 24, 2010


The Omelet. Next to steak & potatoes, and depending on what's in it, it's just about my favorite breakfast. The ingredients are as varied as are people's imaginations. And, the best part is that if you have not yet "mastered"  the folding part, you can just call it a "scramble" and it's all good.

About a year ago, I decided that I was going to finally succeed at making a real omelet, rather than one that I just ended up calling a scramble. After all, for the most part, what it looks like in the end doesn't matter so much as how it tastes! At any rate, I'd figured out what I liked in it, so the next obvious step was figuring out how the restaurants do it - how do they get that PERFECT half circle shape, without the eggs being dried out and all brown on the surface and also keeping the stuff that's inside, inside??? Well, dear ones, I figured it out. Read on if you care to learn the tips & tricks to a successful, and good looking, omelet!

First, decide what you're going to put in or have with your omelet. Today's list is pictured below - three rows, starting with the top row, from left to right: mini bagel, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, bacon, colby jack cheese, 2 eggs, red onion, mushrooms and some fresh spinach.

Because the eggs can go from perfect to overcooked in a matter of seconds, it's really important to have everything prepped and laid out so you can easily grab it when you need it. Most everything is diced up. I probably have about a 1/4 cup of each ingredient, perhaps a little more - it's all about how much stuff you want, well.... stuffed in there!

Once you've diced & grated, you can use this trick for any fresh herbs you may be putting in your omelet - put the full leaves into a small dish - like this custard cup:

Next, take a pair of kitchen shears - making sure they're dedicated to food (and not cutting "other" stuff, like cans) - and turn them at a 90 degree angle to the bottom of the dish and cut the herbs until they're diced up as much as you like  - this beats the heck out of a knife and cutting board any day!

Next, beat the eggs till they're nice and fluffy. Some people like to add some cream or milk, I like them straight up. Set the eggs aside.

Heat a medium size non stick pan over medium-low heat and then add some oil. Not much here - just a little drizzle. This is important because some of the contents of the omelet (like the onions and mushrooms) will be sauteed first and this little bit of oil keeps them from becoming brown and crisp.

I keep cooking oil in this handy dispenser - it's a hold over from the days when this place was a restaurant - and it really makes putting oil in the pan SO much easier than trying to use that big jug it comes in.

Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms & onions.

Cook for a minute or two, and then add the bacon. I used about a half a piece of the bacon that I keep frozen - for the how-to on what I consider perfect bacon, click here.

Continue cooking for a couple more minutes. The amount of time you cook things all depends on how you like it in the end. I prefer the veggies to have some firmness left, so I only cook them a few minutes total. Remove to a plate and set aside.

There should be very little oil left in the pan. Now, remove the pan from the heat for a moment and reduce the heat to low. I mean LOW, as low as your stove will go. Once the burner has adjusted and the pan has cooled a little, return the pan to the stove and carefully pour the eggs into it.

You want to be sure that the eggs do NOT sizzle when they hit the pan, if they do, it's all over already. The pan is too hot and the eggs will be brown when it's all finished. You should see just a very slight amount of cooking going on at the edges of the eggs - this is fine.

Immediately begin adding your fillings - I added them in this order: onions/mushrooms/bacon, tomatoes, cilantro, spinach, and finally cheese. You could put the spinach down first, but I find that makes it VERY wilty by the time it's all done. Any way that you do it, just remember that whatever you put down first will be the most cooked of the fillings. I also make sure that, other than the cheese, the fillings stay to one side of the egg circle - this accomplishes two things: first, the omelet will be easier to fold over if all the filling is on one side and second: the cheese is spread out so it melts evenly.

Now, take a fairly tight fitting lid and cover the pan. While this is finishing off, you can toast your bagel, or finish up whatever else you're having with the omelet. While it's toasting, I usually place the plate upside down over the toaster - this warms the plate nicely and helps the food stay warm the whole time you're eating it. Typically, about the time the bagel or toast is done, the omelet will also be done. Now, you simply fold the empty side of the eggs over the top of the fillings! I like a rubber spatula for this - the soft pliable edges are gentle on the eggs so there's less risk that you'll puncture or tear the eggs while you're turning them.

Now, slide it carefully out of the pan onto the plate - for the prettiest presentation, make sure the curved side of the omelet lines up with the curve of the plate. This is a salad size plate and seems the perfect size for a 2-egg omelet - assuming you're not serving a "restaurant" size portion of other stuff with it - like hash browns etc. I don't even want to get started on what I really think of restaurant portions....

So go practice this.... and on Sunday morning make your family some perfectly eggscelent omelets!

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