It’s Monday. In the fridge, there’s a half eaten container of fried rice, a tub of yogurt, some loosely covered bowl of something I ate last week in the very back and an almost empty container of milk. I haven’t been to the store to stock up for my week of ambitious cooking at home but I don’t want to immediately admit defeat and head out to eat for lunch. This happens every week. And nearly every time I think there’s nothing good to eat for lunch, I realize that I have eggs. If I have eggs, I have a meal. Because there’s almost always some bits of cheese, unused herbs, bits of leftover meats or veggies or some leftover that can be incorporated into an egg dish. If you have eggs and an onion and potato, you can make a hash. If you have eggs and leftover veggies, you can make a frittata. If you have eggs and nothing else but butter, you can make an amazing omelet. Goodness, I’m glad I’m not a vegan.
Many esteemed chefs have done their share of obsessing over the simple preparations of an egg. Chef Gordon Ramsay has the cooking of an egg as an exam, of sorts, for cooks aspiring to work in his restaurants. Chef Wolfgang Puck had an omelet making contest as a qualifying exam for the most recent season of Top Chef. Julia Child is famed for her demonstration of cooking a French omelet, much like the recipe I’ve written about here, and it was Jacques Pepin who taught my husband how to roll an omelet using just the pan. Eggs are simple and beautiful and need hardly any embellishment to make a wonderful meal. The recipe below is almost as simple as it gets.
If you’d like to fill your omelet with more items, try bits of soft goat cheese, some shreds of Parmesan, crispy pieces of prosciutto or sauteed mushrooms. Don’t overfill. This is an IHOP move and it’s what we’re typically used to, but for this recipe, you’re not going for a burrito effect where the eggs act as a tortilla. You’re really showcasing how a delicately seasoned and well cooked egg can be immensely satisfying and flavorful and not too filling.
A Simple Omelet – serves 1, even after looking in the fridge and determining there is nothing to eat.
3 eggs, room temp (set eggs in a bowl of warm water and they’ll be room temp in half the time)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh herbs, roughly chopped (we primarily use thyme and chives)
Crack your eggs into a separate bowl and whisk very well until no separation of whites and yolks remain. Season with salt and pepper – really just about a 1/4 teaspoon and a few grinds of pepper. Over-salting an egg is a grave mistake that you just can’t come back from. It ruins them.
Heat the butter in a large, non-stick pan over medium heat (my skillet is a 10″.) Put two plates into a 200 degree oven to keep warm. As we all know, eggs cool off REALLY quickly. This helps.
Pour the eggs in and swirl the pan around to cover the bottom. With a spatula, stir the eggs around in the center – don’t mess with the sides yet – create holes and shuffle things around for the first few seconds the eggs are in the pan. As you shuffle and create holes and gaps, swirl the pan around and fill in the holes with the runny eggs. Do this a few more times till the liquid in the egg starts to dissipate but still looks a little runny on top. At this point, sprinkle your herbs over half the omelet. Carefully, run your spatula around the edges of the pan and flip about a 1/4 of the omelet over itself from right to left. If you’re deft with the pan skills, you can dump the egg onto your plate and roll the omelet up perfectly while doing so. I don’t possess such skills yet, although I will continue to try. I just use the spatula and continue to fold my omelet from right to left till it’s completely rolled up. This creates nearly four folds.
See the thin layers? I must give credit where credit is due – Matt made this beautiful, delicate omelet. The inside is cooked and yet still creamy and not dried out.
Garnish your omelet with extra herbs and enjoy! Skip the 5 o’clock rush at the grocery store tonight and stay home. If you have eggs, you have dinner.