Omlete Techniques

OMELETS

A good French omelet is a smooth, gently swelling, golden oval that is tender and creamy inside. And as it takes less than half a minute to make, it is ideal for a quick meal. There is a trick to omelets, and certainly the easiest way to learn is to ask an expert to give you a lesson. Nevertheless we hope one of the two techniques we describe will enable you, if you have never made an omelet before, to produce a good one. The difficulty with all written recipes for omelets is that before you even start to make one you must read, remember, and visualize the directions from beginning to end, and practice the movements. For everything must go so quickly once the eggs are in the pan that there is no time at all to stop in the middle and pore over your book in order to see what comes next. Learning to make a good omelet is entirely a matter of practice. Do one after another for groups of people every chance you get for several days, and even be willing to throw some away. You should soon develop the art, as well as your own personal omelet style.

The two methods set forth here are rapid, professional techniques. The first is the simplest. The second takes more manual skill.

Omelet Pans

An omelet cannot be made in a sticky pan; the eggs must be able to slide around freely, and if they cannot, you simply cannot make an omelet at all. Since the first edition of this book, professionally shaped omelet pans of heavy aluminum with no-stick interiors are everywhere available, and that’s what we use–gratefully. However, the great omelet maker Dione Lucas insisted on her specially made cast-aluminum pan half an inch thick, while that other famous omelet queen Mme Romaine de Lyon and many another French cook swear only by the plain iron pan 1/8 inch thick like the one in our illustrations. Whatever you buy, you should have the long handle and the straight-sloping sides 2 inches deep; the bottom diameter should be about 7 inches, since this is the perfect size for the perfect 2- to 3-egg omelet.

If you prefer the French iron pan illustrated, you must first scrub it with steel wool and scouring powder, rinse and dry it, then heat it for a minute or two just until its bottom is too hot for your hand. Rub it with paper towels and cooking oil and let it stand overnight. Before making your first omelet, sprinkle a teaspoon of table salt in the pan, heat it again, and rub vigorously for a moment with paper towels; rub the pan clean, and it is ready for an omelet. If the pan is used only for omelets (a wise decision), it needs no washing afterwards; merely rub it clean with paper towels. If the pan is washed, dry, warm, and oil it lightly before putting it away. If it becomes sticky again, rub again with salt. Never allow any pan, particularly an iron one, to sit empty over heat–this does something to its internal structure so that foods stick to it forevermore.

Eggs and How to Beat Them

An omelet can contain up to 8 eggs, but the individual 2- to 3-egg omelet is usually the tenderest, and by far the best size to practice making. At under 30 seconds an omelette, a number of people can be served in a very short time. In fact, unless you are extremely expert and have a restaurant-size heat source, we do not recommend larger omelettes at all. But if you do want to attempt them, be sure to have the correct size of pan. The depth of the egg mass in the pan should not be over 1/4 inch, as the eggs must cook quickly. A pan with a 7-inch bottom is right for the 2- to 3-egg omelet; a 10- to 11-inch pan is required for 8 eggs.

Just before heating the butter in the pan, break the eggs into a mixing bowl and add salt and pepper. With a large table fork, beat the eggs only enough to blend the whites and yolks thoroughly. From 30 to 40 vigorous strokes should be sufficient.

If you are making several 2- to 3-egg omelets, beat the necessary number of eggs and seasonings together in a large mixing bowl, and provide yourself with a ladle or measure. Two U.S. large eggs measure about 6 tablespoons; 3 eggs, about 9 tablespoons. Measure out the required quantity for each omelet as you are ready to make it, giving the eggs 4 or 5 vigorous beats before dipping them out with your measure.

Transferring the Omelet from Pan to Plate

In each of the methods described, the finished omelet ends up in the far lip of the pan. This is the way to transfer it from the pan to the plate.

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