A beautifully cooked French omelette is brown on the outside and fluffy and moist on the inside. It is the easiest thing in the world to get right, and when you do you'll have a standby whenever you need a quick healthy meal. It's also good for anyone elderly as it is easy to digest and an egg is a good source of protein.
Butter or oil
A little cream (optional)
1. Heat a little oil or butter, or a mixture of both in a non-stick pan. If you have too much, wipe the pan with a bit of paper towel.
2. Whisk 3 eggs with salt and pepper and a little cream if you have it (it makes it lighter).
3. Get a serving plate ready by the cooker.
4. When the oil or butter is hot, pour the egg mixture in and leave for about 5 seconds for the bottom to set a little, then start stirring with a non-stick spatula or a wooden spoon. The trick is to keep the eggy fluid moving so that it bubbles up and becomes lighter. You want the omelette to start to look like hilly terrain, and not be flat.
5. Keep cutting the bottom of the omelette with the spatula or spoon to let the egg through to the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat when you have what looks like an omelette and when it is still wet on top (don't let it dry out - it will continue cooking for a while yet).
6. If you are making a filled omelette, add the topping to the omelette now. Don't add too much, or you will not be able to fold it.
7. Now to get it on the plate! Using the spatula, free up the edges of the omelette, then slide the spatula underneath and bit by bit nudge it out of the pan onto the plate. When it is half on the plate and half in the pan, using the pan and the spatula fold over the half that is in the pan, over the half that is on the plate. You do this by lightly jerking the pan forward so that the omelette literally folds over the half that is on the plate.That's it, it's easy. It should be nice and brown on top (if it is not, you didn't have the oil/butter hot enough.)
Variations on an Omelette
– Fry some tomato and chopped onion with some chopped fresh herbs in olive oil in a seperate pan until they are soft and put it on top of the omelete, then add the grated cheese.
– Add fresh chopped parsley, thyme or sage leaves to the egg mixture before frying (or add a quarter teaspoon of mixed herbs).
– Add a teaspoon of horseradish sauce to the egg mixture and whisk.
– Grate parmesan over the finished omelette and use a blow-torch to brown it (if you want to be a TV chef!). You can put it under the grill but it will cook the omelette through and you will miss out on that lovely gooey softness in the middle.
- Once you know how to cook an omelette, you can vary the ingredients (but not the technique!). Choose your favourite ingredients and combine them, from capers to black olives, cherry tomatoes to anchovies, sliced sausage to decent parma ham. Experiment with cheese, anything that grates well or melts will be delicious. You can make an open-faced omelette too.
– Mushroom: fry some finely chopped mushrooms in butter. Pour the eggs over and follow the instructions for an omelette.
– Ham: mix diced ham with the eggs.
– Cheese: add grated cheese into the eggs before cooking.
– Herb: finely chop a selection of herbs, or just one herb, and add to the eggs.
– Garlic: add chopped garlic which you have gently softened in butter or oil to the eggs before cooking.
– Bacon: cut bacon into small pieces or finely slice pancetta. Either blanch by putting it in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towel. Brown in the pan and pour on the beaten eggs and cook as normal for an omelette.
– Onion: Fry chopped onions until brown in a pan. Pour the eggs on top and cook as normal for an omelette.
You need an omelette pan that won't stick and that will have curved edges so that you can get the omelette comfortably onto the plate.
– TK Maxx have a good range of non-stick frying pans at far less than retail price and you often find good brands – in Dublin you'll find them in the Stephens' Green Centre on the first floor. They also have a great choice in their Belfast stores - where we bought ours, they have a whole wall of them! Ours was ten euro – it's a 7 inch pan with curved edges with a really heavy base and a coated surface and it will last about 10 years, if we use a non-stick spatula and don't scratch it with a metal implement.
– Delia Smith swears by a light aluminium omelette pan – when she recommended it the factory couldn't initially keep up with production! You can get it at www.lakeland.co.uk. We don't know of any Irish retailer who sells this pan, but if you are out there let us know.
Omelette with Tarragon, Tomatoes, Olives and Garlic
1 tablespoon of butter
1 shallot, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped finely
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1oz of gruyere, cheddar, comte or any hard cheese, grated
Leaves of 1/2 sprig of tarragon, chopped finely
1. Heat the butter in a medium non-stick frying pan but don't let it brown. Add the shallot and garlic and fry gently over a low heat for a few minutes until soft.
2. Add the tomato and turn the heat up and let the tomato lose its liquid and condense so that it is thicker.
3. Add a pinch of salt to the eggs along with a few grindings of black pepper and whisk the eggs well.
4. Turn the heat up in the frying pan to medium. Pour the eggs into the pan and leave to set for about 30 seconds. Then you need to whisk the egg mixture gently in the middle moving the whisk out to the edges. This lifts the egg and makes it fluff up and become light. You should see little mounds appearing. Now, using a spatula, break the omelette in spots, pushing your spatula through the egg to make slits and tilt the raw egg that is sitting on top so that it flows into these cuts so that it runs onto the bottom of the hot pan. Do this a few times around the omelette to make sure that the loose egg on top ends up on the bottom of the pan and cooks. When the egg is almost cooked on top but there are still parts that are runny, sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the omelette. When the omelette is nearly cooked but you can still see soft wet bits on top, it is ready (it will go on cooking and if you keep cooking it, it will be dry as a bone and unappetising by the time you serve it. French omelettes are always a little soft on top.) Get a large plate ready, tilt the pan over towards the plate so that almost of third of the omelette falls off the pan as if it desperately wants to reach the plate. Then lift the overhanging part back over onto the omelette in the pan with a spatula and then slip the omelette onto the plate and fold the last third on the other side back on top of the omelette on the plate so you have a neat package. It should make sense when you are doing it, we promise!
Why not try a hearty Montana Omelette?