How to make an omelet
Total time:15 minutes
Servings:1 to 2
But cooking a great omelette at home doesn’t have to be shrouded in mystery. If you’re already confident in your scrambled eggs, you’ve done almost everything. In “CookWise,” Shirley O. Corriher explains, “Basically, omelets are glorified scrambled eggs. They start the same, then when the eggs are partially set but still juicy, they are folded over.
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This means that many of the same tips I shared almost two years ago in my much-discussed article on scrambled eggs also apply here.
For me, that advice is exemplified by this classic folded omelette, a mash-up of recipes from chef and cookbook author Michel Roux and cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt, plus some of my personal modifications. . Think of it as a cross between a French omelette and a dinner-style omelette. It has the smooth, creamy texture of the French version, with the folded appearance and filling versatility of what you might get at a casual restaurant. For me, it’s the best of both worlds.
Here are some of the keys to its success, which can help you with your omelettes, whether you make this specific recipe or not.
Choose the right skillet. There are two parts to this. Eggs tend to stick because, in their liquid form, they can flow into any microscopic surface imperfections, Corriher explains. For this reason, I turn to my non-stick skillet. If you have a well seasoned cast iron skillet you are sure the eggs won’t stick, by all means use it.
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The other half of the equation is choosing the right size pan for the job. I really love my new 8 inch skillet for individual or 2 serving omelets. It prevents eggs from spreading too thin and overcooking. It is also very easy to maneuver. If you’re looking for larger omelets to share, consider using a 10 inch for 4 or 5 eggs and moving up to 12 inch for 6 or more eggs.
Salting. López-Alt is the one who sold me the salting of eggs a little before the time you cook them. This gives the salt time to dissolve evenly so it can act as the most effective buffer between the egg proteins and prevent them from binding too tightly. When this happens, the moisture is pushed out and you get hard-boiled, rubbery eggs. If you forget to add salt beforehand, add it just before the eggs enter the pan. But if you plan to add the salt at the same time you start preheating the pan, you’ll be golden. Speaking of preheating…
Be patient, then work quickly. A sufficiently preheated pan will help prevent the eggs from sticking, so the eggs will begin to cook as soon as they touch the pan. As Cook’s Illustrated notes, preheating your pan slowly leads to more even heat throughout the pan — and gives you a bigger window to add your eggs without overcooking them. While the magazine recommends low heat, I prefer medium heat for a slightly faster but no less even result. When using medium-high heat, according to Roux’s recipe in our archives that I worked on, I found more color variation in the omelet than I wanted, as well as a tendency to overcooking. If you’re a confident cook who likes a little more puff and color for the omelet, you can use medium-high heat as long as you factor in the higher heat with your timing.
This is where the quick work part comes in. Once your pan has been preheated and you’ve poured in the egg, it’s time to get up to speed. Quickly stir the eggs to evenly distribute the heat and cook them all. Once the curd begins to form, stop. Work quickly around the pan, lifting the edge of the caught eggs and tilting the pan so that the liquid drips into the gaps in the sides. This method gives you a smooth and pretty exterior. The whole process should take no more than a minute and a half.
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Pay attention to the toppings. Because the omelet itself sets so quickly, says López-Alt, any toppings that need to be softened should be fully or mostly cooked ahead of time, because they don’t cook while on the eggs. You can do this in the pan while your salted eggs sit in a bowl or in a separate pan. Mixing the hot ingredients with the cheese will also help start the melting. Then spread your filling over half of the eggs while they are still in the pan just before removing it from the heat.
Let the eggs finish heating. Once you’ve completed the tilting step, let the pan sit on the heat until the eggs are almost completely set. They will still look wet but should not run. This is the point where it’s easy to let the eggs overcook, which is why I like López-Alt’s suggestion to remove the pan from the heat and then cover the pan to let the eggs finish in the residual heat . Simply fold in half (or in thirds, if that’s your thing) and serve. The result: a creamy and smooth omelette.
You may need to practice and perfect, but it won’t be long before you have your very own omelet station at home.
Classic Restaurant Style Omelette
Omelets are simple to make and easy to mess up, so we’ve got a recipe for you with some clever tips to ensure success. Salting the eggs a little before cooking and then letting them finish drying out ensures a tender result without overcooking.
For tips on how to turn this into a stuffed omelette, see the VARIATION below.
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- 3 large eggs
- Fine salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Fresh herbs for garnish, such as thyme leaves, chopped chives, or chopped parsley (optional)
Crack the eggs into a small bowl, season lightly with salt and pepper and, using a fork, whisk lightly to combine. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes (15 is even better) while you heat the pan and prepare any toppings (see VARIATION). Salting ahead helps keep eggs tender while cooking.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Be sure to give it plenty of time to ensure the eggs start cooking right away. A few drops of water brushed against the surface should slide off and evaporate immediately. Add the butter to melt, stirring to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
Pour the eggs into the skillet and allow the mixture to set for 10-20 seconds, then use a spatula to begin stirring the mixture, stirring until curds begin to form. Lift the edges of the clotted egg and tilt the pan to let the uncooked egg fill in the gaps.
Repeat the process as you go around the entire pan. This part should take no longer than 60-90 seconds. When the omelette has set at the bottom but still looks slightly moist but not runny on top, remove the pan from the heat and cover it with a tight-fitting lid or plate. Let stand until eggs have reached desired consistency, 1 to 2 minutes.
Use a spatula to fold the omelette in half and transfer it to a plate. Sprinkle herbs on top, if using, and serve hot.
VARIATION: You can use this recipe to make your choice of stuffed omelet. The vegetables won’t cook enough in the omelet, so you’ll want to sauté them in butter or oil first, over medium to medium-high heat. Transfer to a bowl, where you can mix with grated or crumbled cheese, if desired. When the eggs are almost done, sprinkle your topping over half of the omelette before removing from the heat and covering to let rest. Then fold in half and serve.
Calories: 158; Total fat: 13 g; Saturated fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 294mg; Sodium: 204mg; Carbohydrates: 1g; Dietary fiber: 0g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 9g
This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.
Based on a recipe adapted by Andreas Viestad from “Eggs,” by Michel Roux (John Wiley & Sons, 2006), as well as a recipe for “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji López-Alt (WW Norton, 2015).
Tested by Becky Crystal; questions by e-mail to [email protected].
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