Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Few Good Eggs: Or, My Take on the Classic French Omelette

I once read that in order to get a job as a chef in some French restaurants you had to prove that you could make a perfect omelette. This seemingly simple task is where the job is won or lost. The French take their omelettes very seriously and apply the same care in making them as they do a fancy beurre blanc sauce. On my personal quest for omelette perfection, I’ve come upon a few simple truths: 

 1. The pan matters. A good-quality, ovenproof nonstick skillet, about 9-inches in diameter with curved sides is perfect. 

 2. Never use more than 3 eggs in your omelette. If you’re feeding more than one person, make two omelettes! 

3. You need patience to make a good omelette. You can’t rush perfection, so don’t try. 

4. Season the omelette after you’ve cooked it, never before. The idea is that the outside be perfectly and beautifully yellow, unmarred by flecks of pepper and free of any brown spots. 

5. The omelette should be “custard-like” and forgive the expression, “as soft as a baby’s bottom.” 

6. An omelette is a beautiful thing, perfect in its simplicity. It needs little more than a scattering of fresh herbs, none of that cheese and ham nonsense. 

And finally, Julia Child once said, "Wine is essential with anything! Particularly omelettes for lunch." 

Far be it for me to argue with a master. 
ingredients for the perfect Omelette

The Perfect Omelette

Serves 1

3 large organic eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped
Kosher salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk eggs and the cream in a small bowl. In a 9-inch ovenproof non-stick saute pan, heat the butter over high heat until bubbling and foamy. You want it hot, but whatever you do, don’t let it brown. Add the eggs all at once to the center of the pan. There should be an audible hiss. Immediately reduce the heat to low and using a heat-resistant rubber spatula stir constantly. The key thing to remember here is, “low and slow.”

When the eggs begin to “just set” on the bottom (the top will still be wet) turn off the heat and toss the pan into the preheated oven. Let it go for about 1½ minutes until the top is still moist- looking and custard-like. Season with salt & pepper and scatter the chives and tarragon over the top of the eggs. Using the rubber spatula, gently loosen the edge of the eggs from the side of the pan and fold one side over toward the center. Use the pan to help you invert the omelette onto a plate folded over itself in thirds. Perfection!

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