How To Make The Perfect Omelet
When it comes to breakfast there are few meals as perfect as the omelet. Omelets are relatively healthy, quick, filling, impressive looking, and tasty. Whether you are cooking an omelet for yourself, a special person, or an entire family it is the Ultimate Breakfast Food.
One of the best things about omelets is that they are like a blank culinary canvas. Eggs, milk, salt, and pepper: that’s an omelet. Add in ham and cheese and you get a completely different set of flavors; broccoli and cheese – another classic. Sausage, mushrooms, peppers – the list of possible ingredients is almost endless. Nearly anything can be added to the basic mix to create the Real Breakfast of Champions.
Begin by gathering your equipment. One frying pan, one spatula, a bowl, and a fork or whisk is all that is needed. Place the frying pan on the stove and bring it up to medium heat to warm the pan.
Next gather your ingredients. All omelets need eggs and milk (three eggs is a pretty healthy portion for most) and salt and pepper. I’m doing a classic ham and cheese omelet here, so those items are also in my ingredient list. Most ingredients can be thrown in uncooked and will cook with the eggs, but some things such as raw meat or crisp vegetables should be cooked a bit beforehand to ensure doneness. Don’t be shy with your ingredients, and don’t be afraid to pull leftovers from the fridge. The asparagus or mushrooms left over from last nights supper would be perfect. You will also need butter, or better yet non-stick cooking spray.
Break the eggs into a bowl and add a small amount of milk. For three eggs, a quarter cup or less should be about right. Add it slowly and mix well. The more milk you add the fluffier the eggs will be, but the longer it will take to firm up. Add some pepper and a pinch of salt to enhance the natural flavors. Finally, add in about half of your special ingredients and mix them into the batter. Most people add the cheese after the omelet is already cooked, but I like to mix about half into the batter at this point. It melts throughout the omelet and tastes great.
At this point, butter the pan, or better yet liberally spray the pan with cooking spray. We really want to ensure the omelet will not stick.
Pour the batter into the pan, trying to distribute the ingredients evenly. Be careful not to move things around too much however, as you will scramble the eggs and never get a good omelete. The trick to cooking an omelet is to spread it out in the pan thin, and let it get as firm as possible before we flip it. As the omelet cooks, you will begin to see the omelet solidify. Gently probe underneath it with your spatula to keep the base from sicking to the pan. Every once in a while a general shaking or swirling motion will help to spread the mixture out and ensure it cooks evenly.
Cooking the Omelet
When the eggs are about three quarters cooked, it’s time for the flip. Ensure the omelet is loose in the pan by getting under the edges with a spatula and sliding the pan back and forth watching the omelet slide. Pick the pan up off the burner and with a rocking of the wrist, get the omelet sliding, then snap the pan and flip the eggs over the other side. If done right, the omelet will flip completely around and continue cooking on the other side. Practice makes perfect. As you can probably imagine the smaller the omelet and the smaller the frying pan the easier this is to do.
(Omelets are French food, and the French sometimes do things a bit differently. For example, by cooking at a lower temperature the egg will cook through without the need to flip, and without burning the bottom of the omelet. I like the flip, because food is entertainment for me, and I like to add a bit of pizzazz. Some Foodies will disagree with this technique. If you don’t want the risk of flipping your omelet, cook at a lower heat, and fold it in thirds when it’s finished cooking. You should still continue to shake or swirl the pan to spread the egg mixture out evenly and thinly over the surface of the pan. Either method is technically correct, it’s entirely up to you.)
The Flipped Omelet
This is a good time to throw some bread in the toaster and pour some drinks. Don’t leave the eggs on the heat for too long, as you don’t want them to burn. They are finished when there is no runny juice coming from them any more. (An alternative viewpoint is that the eggs don’t need to be cooked until they stop running. I’m not a big fan of raw egg, so I choose to avoid the risk of Salmonella and just cook my eggs completely. Some will disagree and say the risk of Salmonella is actually very, very small, and that the eggs taste better when slightly undercooked. I don’t recommend it, but I’m not your Mommy.)
Now is the time to finish the omelet. Take the remainder of the filling material that you have and place it on one half of the omelet. Slip the spatula under one side of the omelet, and fold it back on itself, creating a little envelope. Transfer the omelet to a plate. It should stay warm enough while you cook one more omelet, but if you have several to cook, put it inside the oven on the lowest heat setting to keep it warm. You can imagine that the more omelets you have to make, the more frying pans it is handy to have around.