There was a summer many years ago when I taught cooking classes to four little girls. They were two sets of sisters who were homeschooled. Their mothers, who were friends of mine, thought that cooking classes would satisfy many interests and teach quite a few skills to the girls. And indeed, I’ve always thought that cooking classes for young people are fabulous for not only learning about food, but also grasping important applications like math and chemistry.
During those classes we had a session on eggs – how to appreciate them for the wonderful little package of food they are, and how to treat them with respect in the kitchen. And one thing we made together were omelets.
Now, it may not seem that creative to put an omelet on my blog, but on the contrary, I think that an omelet teaches quite a few skills. Plus, there are a lot of terrible omelets out there, so perhaps I’m doing a community service with this post. I’d like to think so.
To me, there are a few criteria for making the perfect omelet:
1. good eggs
2. good cheese, for a cheese omelet
3. the right skillet
4. a lid
Of course it goes without saying that the ingredients that you choose for your omelet have to be good. If you’ve ever had bad, old eggs, you know how wonderful and important it is to have access to farm-fresh eggs – the kind that are almost impossible to break open because the shells are so hard. And once you’ve emptied the egg into a bowl, you see a dark, almost orange yolk sitting high atop a firm white. That’s a fresh egg, and you will undoubtedly taste the difference, guaranteed.
The right skillet is important because you want your omelet to end up a decent thickness. Place your whisked eggs in too large of a skillet, and you will get a crepe-like omelet. Unless you like that kind, I don’t recommend too large of a skillet.
The skillet I use for my one-person, 2-egg omelet, is actually a crêpe pan. It’s got a flat bottom and flat sides. The outside diameter is 8″; the inside diameter, or bottom, measures 6″ in diameter.
A perfect-fitting lid is also important for making a good omelet.
And then the most important aspect of making an omelet – patience. As Rome wasn’t built in a day, an omelet can’t be prepared in one minute. I know everyone likes fast food, but if you rush your omelet, it will taste and feel like something purchased at a fast food restaurant. Which would make me wonder why you’re even bothering to cook an omelet at home in the first place…
For today’s omelet, I chose butter, 2 eggs, Gruyere, and a little leftover diced ham. And here’s what I did.
A Basic Cheese and Ham Omelet
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cheese of choice – grated, or sliced fairly thinly and uniformly – I used Gruyère
Diced ham (optional)
Have your cheese sliced or grated, and whisk the 2 eggs in a small bowl before you begin heating the skillet.
Place the butter in a pre-heated skillet over medium heat. It should begin melting immediately, but not burn. If you think the skillet is too hot, remove it from the heat source for a minute. Cooking is a lot about common sense.
You need to work fairly quickly at first, but don’t worry. It’s not a race. Just have all of the ingredients available, as well as the lid for the skillet. And don’t forget to adjust the heat on the stove. That’s why there are knobs.
Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet. You can see that the hot skillet has begun to “grab” the eggs and the cooking process has begun.
Immediately place the cheese over the top of the eggs.
If you’re using any accessory ingredients, add those immediately as well.
Then place the lid on the skillet, and reduce the heat under the skillet to the most minimum available to you.
Let the omelet cook slowly, with the lid on, over low heat, for about 4-5 minutes. At one point, the top of the omelet will look like this:
Most of the cheese is melted, but there is still a bit of egg that need to cook through. At this point, remove the skillet completely from the heat source, but leave the lid on. After about 1 minute, the omelet should be ready.
I didn’t have enough hands to take the picture of the omelet coming out of the skillet, and, in fact, my husband only has one working arm/hand after bicep surgery last month, so I had to make do with simply showing you the omelet after I put it on the plate.
Because there’s a generous amount of butter on the bottom of the skillet, the omelet should slide out easily. Do it slowly, and once half of the omelet is on the plate, simply use the skillet to flip the other half of the omelet back over itself. If you don’t care what your omelet looks like, keep it open-faced.
The egg part of the omelet was cooked fully, although not nearly to the point of rubberyness.
And the cheese was fully melted inside as well. I also like a little bit of browning on the outside of the omelet, but you can adjust this based on how hot the pre-heated skillet it.
What’s important is that in spite of the fact that this omelet took a little time, the result is superb.