My Recipe Box

Omelets for Dinner

One easy technique and a few savory fillings make a fast, delicious supper

by Kay Baumhefner

fromFine Cooking
Issue 55

There are many ways to make an omelet, including tipping, flipping, jerking, rolling, and tossing. Some methods look like they require years of cooking school and an acrobat’s coordination.  

But here’s an omelet that’s both easy to master and satisfying in its neat turn of hand. This one starts with a soft scramble for fast, even cooking but stops quite short of scrambled eggs to let the omelet set evenly. It gives you an omelet that’s fluffy inside, with perfectly cooked eggs, a filling that’s nicely integrated into the whole, and a golden finish on the outside.  

There are, of course, countless ways to flavor and fill an omelet, depending on your mood and on what’s in your fridge. All the combinations call for ingredients you might have on hand or that are easy to find. The fillings come together in a flash, or you can even make them ahead.

The right pan and spatula are key

Because you’ll be moving the eggs around as you cook the omelet, a nonstick pan and a heat-resistant spatula will be your best friends here.  

A heavy-duty nonstick skillet reduces the amount of fat needed and makes it easier to turn your omelet out of the pan. For a two-egg omelet, use a gently sloped 8-inch skillet with a bottom diameter of at least 6 inches. You’ll need the surface area to create an omelet that’s easy to fill and fold. A heat-resistant spatula works beautifully for soft-scrambling the eggs and for nudging the omelet out of the pan. Plus, this tool won’t hurt your nonstick skillet’s finish. Campbell's Gourmet Cottage and Potsandpans.com carry nonstick omelet pans. For heat-proof spatulas, try The Well-Tempered Kitchen.

And, of course, the fresher the egg, the better the omelet. Petaluma, California, where I live, has a history of being the egg basket of the nation, so I’ve been spoiled in this regard. If you can, make the effort to get farm-fresh eggs, or buy them at your local farmers’ market. If not, be sure to check the date on the box.

The filling should be warm and ready

An omelet cooks in less than two minutes, and you’ll want to eat it right away, so have everything else ready before you start making it. To keep the texture light, be sure the filling ingredients are in small pieces and are fork-tender. Cooked fillings should be warm, not cold from the refrigerator. Also, I find that making one omelet per person (rather than splitting a large omelet) is the best strategy for good-looking results—plus, you’ll get so good at it that you’ll find it fun to do repeatedly).  

I’ve written the filling recipes to serve one, but if you’re cooking for more people than that, the recipes are easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. You can whisk all the eggs together and ladle out 1/2-cup of beaten eggs per omelet. For the Mexican filling, a 15-ounce can of black beans gives you the right amount of filling for four omelets. For the tomato-mozzarella filling, a drained 14 1/2-ounce can of tomatoes is enough to fill four omelets.

Start an omelet with a soft scramble
  • 1. When the butter melts, pour the eggs into the pan. With a heatproof spatula, scramble the eggs using small, circular scribbling motions until soft curds start to form, 30 to 50 seconds.
  • 2. As the mixture firms, spread it over the bottom of the pan; swipe the sides as needed. Stop working the curds to let the omelet begin to firm and let it sit about 30 seconds. (If you like your eggs well done, let it go a bit longer.)
  • 3. If using cheese, scatter it evenly, leaving a scant margin around the omelet's edge. Add the other filling ingredients and use your spatula to gently press them into the curds to incorporate the filling into the omelet.
  • 4. With the spatula, lift one-third of the omelet and fold it over the center like a business letter.
  • 5. Tilt the pan toward the plate to slide the omelet so one-third of it hangs over the pan's edge. Invert the pan, using the spatula to help support the omelet so that it flips neatly over itself as it slides out of the pan.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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