A beautifully-cooked omelette can be pale or golden on the outside but it must be fluffy and slightly runny on the inside. It is the easiest thing in the world to get right, and when you know how to make one, you’ll have a standby whenever you need a quick healthy meal.
Serves 1 (recipe doubles easily)
A generous knob of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
2. Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper until they are just homogenous – don’t over beat them, once you can’t see any egg white, they are ready.
3. Get a plate ready.
4. When the butter is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan and leave the edges to set – about 20 seconds.
5. Tilt the pan to allow the runny egg to run around the edge of the pan. Use a spatula to lift the edge of the omelette and allow the egg to run back into the centre, underneath the omelette. The trick is to keep the egg fluid so that it bubbles up and becomes lighter. You want the omelette to start to look like hilly terrain, it shouldn’t be flat. Keep nudging the omelette towards the centre of the pan and allow what’s left of the egg to run underneath. It takes only a minute or two in total. The centre of the omelette should still be runny.
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. Slide the spatula underneath and bit by bit nudge the omelette out of the pan onto the plate. When it is half on the plate and half in the pan, tilt the pan and use the spatula to fold over the half that is in the pan on top of 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.
How to cook a pale or golden omelette
If you want a pale omelette, follow the instructions above but keep the heat low so the butter doesn’t brown. If you want a golden brown omelette underneath, add another knob of butter to the pan halfway through cooking, slipping it under the omelette. Turn the heat to medium until you can hear it sizzle and finish cooking the omelette, making sure to take it off the heat before the centre dries out.
Variations on an Omelette
– Fry finely chopped tomato and chopped onion with finely chopped fresh herbs in olive oil in a separate pan until they are soft. Place on top of the omelette and sprinkle with grated cheese. (You can glaze the omelette under a hot grill for a minute to melt the cheese if you wish.)
– Add fresh chopped parsley, thyme or sage leaves to the egg mixture before frying (or add a quarter teaspoon of mixed herbs or our favourite, Herbes de Provence).
– Add a teaspoon of horseradish sauce to the egg mixture and whisk.
– Grate Parmesan over the finished omelette and finish with with a blow-torch or under a hot grill.
– 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, that is an omelette that you don’t fold over – just pop the hot ingredients on top and serve.
– Mushroom: fry finely chopped mushrooms in butter. Pour the eggs over and follow the instructions for an omelette.
– Ham: fill the omelette with leftover chopped cooked ham or fried slivers of pancetta or bacon and fried onion.
– Cheese: add grated cheese into the eggs before cooking.
– Herb: finely chop a selection of herbs, or just one herb (like basil) and add to the eggs after you have beaten them.
– Garlic: add chopped garlic which you have gently softened in butter or oil to the eggs before cooking.
– 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 slip the omelette comfortably onto the plate. Non-stick or aluminium is best.
Omelette with Tarragon, Tomatoes, Olives and Garlic
This is the other method for making an omelette, where you make cuts in the omelette while it is cooking, and flood the cuts so the egg mixture runs through the slits and cooks underneath. We also explain how to fold the omelette in three (see instructions below).
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
25g of Gruyere, cheddar, Comté 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 to medium to allow the tomato to 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 until you can see no trace of white.
4. 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 with a wooden spoon or spatula. This lifts the egg and makes it fluff up and become light. You should see little mounds appearing.
5. Use the spatula to make cuts in the omelette and tilt the pan so that the raw egg that is sitting on top flows into these cuts and 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.
6. 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. 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.
Recipes for Seniors
Omelettes are also good for anyone elderly or frail as they are easy to digest and an egg is a good source of protein.