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How to Make The Perfect Omelette:
I feel uniquely qualified to write this piece. Unlike Delia, I’d never try to boil an egg. I don’t like boiled eggs. I don’t like scrambled eggs. I hate poached eggs and I haven’t even dared to try coddled eggs. In the ‘pure’ sense, the only eggs I’m happy eating are those made into an omelette. Preferably a French-style omelette (though I can tolerate frittata or a Spanish omelette). And preferably cooked through and buttery
The rest of my family loved eggs and my mother would cook soft boiled eggs for celebratory breakfasts (Christmas and Easter). She’d also put eggs into fish pie. Why? it was torture for me, trying to avoid the slippery morsels of rubbery egg-white. It wasn’t until I was in my teens and got hold of Elizabeth David’s ‘French Provincial Cooking’ that I discovered I actually did like an omelette. Made using the method she described, of course.
There are seven pages of instructions on how to make the perfect omelette in ‘French Provincial Cooking’ and, although I thought I’d got into the habit of adding a little water through Elizabeth David’s instruction, on re-reading it isn’t so. Nevertheless, I much prefer the lighter and less ‘eggy’ omelette that results from a little water (I add a teaspoon for every two eggs and generally allow two large eggs per person). What I DID learn from French Provincial Cooking was how to get the egg to the perfect level of ‘set’, which even for an eggophobe like me stops before that rubbery/cut with a knife without ooze stage. Essentially, you need to pull back the cooked part of the omelette and allow the uncooked egg to hit the base of the frying pan. How you do it is up to you. I use a rubber palate knife and pull the set mixture back gently then tilt the pan and gently rotate it.
The other ‘ingredient’ in making a perfect omelette is using the perfect pan. And, I’ve just been sent the *right* kind of pan. My new OXO Good Grips frying pan is non-stick in the best possible way, it goes in the dishwasher and it is light enough to tilt and rotate easily. The 24cm pan that I have works well for a three-egg omelette (more than I normally eat) and is just a little large for a two-egg version. But, it still works extremely well. Especially if, like me, you prefer your omelette ‘well cooked’.
When I first started to make omelettes, non-stick pans were a liability. If you heated your oil or butter up to the perfect temperature, the finish of the pans would quickly start to peel. Then, you’d end up with little morsels of Teflon in your meal. Thankfully, those days are over and today’s non-stick pans last for years and can withstand high temperatures. My OXO Good Grips frying pan has now been used for a couple of weeks – to make omelettes, cook bacon, fry onions and cook burgers. It is capable of something close to dry-frying but also works with oil and butter. And it really works.
My favourite fillings for omelettes are cheese and tomato (not together). If you want to make a tomato omelette, simply dice a tomato and stew it gently in a little butter till it is soft. Season with salt and pepper and perhaps with a few fresh herbs. Then keep warm while you make the omelette and add the tomato in place of the cheese in the recipe below.
And, without further ado, here’s my recipe for the perfect cheese omelette.
- 2-3 Medium Eggs
- 25 g Butter
- 50 g Cheese I like cheddar or a similar 'hard' cheese. Grate
- 1 teaspoon Water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Gently break the eggs, season with salt and pepper and whisk in a teaspoon of cold water. You shouldn't try to 'froth' the mixture, just to get a consistent yellow mixture.
- Melt the butter over a medium heat in a good non-stick pan.
- Once the butter starts to bubble, tip in the egg mixture
Allow the egg mixture to set for a minute then tilt the pan and pull back the set egg, to let the unset part reach the base of the pan. Your aim is to keep an 'omelette' shape, not make scrambled eggs, so do this gently
Put the cheese in a little heap in one-quarter of the omelette mixture. Allow it to cook till the cheese just starts to melt
- Fold over the omelette to cover the cheese and if possible, flip the entire thing. Continue cooking over a low heat for a minute
- Serve with a green salad
If you prefer a ‘soft-centred’ omelette, just make sure you put the filling in a little earlier, I’d suggest before the eggs have done more than set a tiny bit. And, this is a two-egg omelette, it’s easier to get a soft centre with three or more eggs. And, all you need to go with the omelette is a slice or two of artisan bread. Check out my own recipe for easy artisan bread, which needs no kneading.