I don’t know if you know this about me, but I make the best omelette you’ve never had. I know this for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s because it’s true. Of the omelets you have not eaten, I make the best one. Second: I do an omelet unlike anyone you know. When I make an omelette, I always remove my right shoe. There’s about a half an inch of rubber and plastic on the bottom of my kicks. (Are the kids still saying “kicks?”) It is simply remarkable the effect you can have on superb omelet-craft by adjusting, ever so slightly, your horizon…
I hope that even just one of you believed that, if only for a second. What actually needs to be considered is this: I’m a gastric bypass patient. I was professionally fat for 28 years. I have simply thought about good food longer than you have. Fat Jeff put in so many hours pondering omelette strategy, that what is five or ten minutes in the kitchen now, is actually years of testing and refinement. Thinking back: it started on a family vacation when I was very young. I have this enduring memory of a breakfast buffet which had a chef available for made-to-order eggs/omelets. This omelet super-station was the ultimate force in my universe in that moment.
First off: kids have zero perspective. If I told my son that in two nights we would be going to the best restaurant on earth, and spent two days reminding him of this, 48 hours later he’d be foaming at the mouth as we pulled into the Village Inn. It’s all perspective.
So when I saw the omelette stand, my first thought would not have been “I wonder what kind of car the omelette-dude can afford? Nor would it have been “I bet flipping those eggs must pull some serious tail.” So, not understanding or being in any way aware of how much the attention of females or access to money would affect future interests, I set in my mind that this was something I wanted to know how to do. Let’s stop and consider: As a fat kid, home breakfasts were cereal or toast or a bagel or going hungry. Learning to cook was essential.
I’m unsure of the etymology of “fat kid in a candy store,” but me at a made-to-order breakfast station is what I think they were getting at. I stepped up and a confident, friendly and welcoming gentleman asked me what I’d have. In moving up in line, I could finally see all that was laid out: I suddenly felt like I had been denied a real breakfast my whole life. Someone or several people had dedicated all or most of their morning thus far finely chopping a veritable cornucopia of omelette-worthy accouterment. Tomato, peppers, onions, bacon, various cheeses, ham and pesto, but there were mushrooms… gross. There were bowls for everything, ingredients laid out side by side, oil, eggs, towels, and other frequently used items close by the pans. Cold items further away. The guy had up to four egg pans going at a time, kept conversation going with the guests, and nailed it every time. What a champ!
This experience made a grease stain on my ever-fattening mind. This was soon after parlayed into a family tradition of sorts. From a very young age, whenever we had overnight family guests, in town for an event or visit or some such thing, there would be a morning when I made breakfast for everyone. It became quite the event. I would set up the night before, or be up early that morning to cut and prep the ingredients. As people entered the kitchen, I’d have everything set up: bowls laid out side by side with ingredients to choose from. I recall being super passive aggressive now and again by placing the mushrooms (gross!) separate and further away than every other topping.
To make your way to the kitchen table, you had to pass by the ingredients. The orange juice and fruit were already on the table. Ladies first, ingredients would be called out and personalized omelets were on the way.
******** It’s important to note here that later on, potatoes were added to most omelet productions. These will not be discussed here at this time, as I have to believe there will be an entire post dedicated just to those ********
******** Additional side note that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else: I’m pretty sure this is pure science, but seeing freshly chopped green and yellow and red peppers, onions, and tomato make your brain believe that whatever comes of this will be healthy. So when you add in the cheese, and bacon, and sausage, and cheese, and oil, and feta, and cheese, it still ends up a “healthy” choice because colorful healthy food is in there too. Science. ********
For every individual who has ever put thought into making an omelet, there is a variation of omelet strategy. I’m not here to defend or extoll any one approach over another, though I will probably come back around to do just that before this is over, but here’s what I do: precisely nothing until or unless I have an omelet pan. This is NOT because I can’t cook an egg in just any random cooking vessel, but do you think Davinci settled for just any old brush when he painted the hand of G-d? You must have an omelet pan. Some commoners may call it a “small sauté pan.” Call it whatever you want. The name is not important. A rose, by any other name, would still not cook an omelet as well as an omelet pan. It’s not just a clever name. It’s 8 inches I think. I’m not sure. I know what an omelet pan looks like by looking at it. It’s an omelet pan. Get one. Have one.
This is mine. I’ve had it over 2 decades.
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Alright, while we’ve come this far, let’s do a brief 500-70,000 words on non-stick vs. stainless steel vs copper. Some people out there are solidly in the non-stick camp, while others will defend stainless to the grave. And we haven’t even mentioned cast iron. Since you’re begging for my take on it, here I go: non-stick is required for certain things like pancakes and eggs and lots of breakfasty things, now that I think of it. No other surface will do to a properly cooked grilled cheese (future post?) what stainless will. Cast iron is AMAZING for stovetop-to-oven transitions, and the colors and textures it will turn cheese has my inner fat kid screaming in delight. (Also, put a cast iron pan on your outdoor grill, and slice hot dogs into slices and then half-moons. Cook low and slow. You’ll thank me.) Copper is for people with disposable incomes who want to hang beautiful cookware from the ceiling from one of those gorgeous-but-pretentious pot’n’pan hanging things.
Also, copper has unmatched heat consistency and distribution, is wildly efficient, and when made well, it lasts forever. You know, so there is that. For the record, though, I would own said cookware-hanging-implement in a heartbeat were I to design and have someone else pay for my dream kitchen.
Where was I? When I left my house to move away to college, I had a few requests to take household items that weren’t, per-se, “mine.” Second on my wish list was the omelet pan I learned omelets with. It’s still in my stable of cookware. The first on my list was my childhood spoonula. A must. Essential. It got me through college, and I still reach for it first when it’s clean (or clean enough). It’s blue and perfect.
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Consider: at Taco Bell the Spork is the perfect tool. Its scoopy, its pokey, its everything you need. The spoonula is the spork of the kitchen. Spoonula’s offer the scoop potential of a spoon, the flip action of a spatula, all while benefitting from a rubber edge that is assertive, without being pushy. That edge is pivitol at positioning breakfast potatoes from burning to the bottom, instrumental in incorporating a succulent sauce in and amongst penne, and is the very assassin in the night for keeping a solidifying omelet from sticking to the edge of the pan. Which brings us to another love for spoonulas: Your (eeeek!) metal instruments are bad for non-stick finishes. Non-stick is very nice to you, be kind to it. Get yourself a spoonula. Life changing. Do it now.
So – to the business. A pat of butter in your pan. Let it melt and move it around. Not a bad idea to hit the edges with your preferred non-stick cooking spray too, but well spread butter will do the deed. Keep your burner around 6 or 7. The order is this:
First in are ingredients that want some cooking time. Onions, tomato, peppers, ham, garlic, etc. Vary pace and addition of ingredients based on ingredient. Play around and customize based on preference. Generally onions can go as long as you want, whereas most people don’t like limp peppers. The longer a tomato cooks, the more water it gives off. Things to consider.
Bacon has its own category because first of all it deserves it, show some respect, but also because it will ideally have been cooked, cooled, and crumbled prior to omelet making time. As such, it doesn’t need to be cooked again, but simply allowed to “open up” and share some of its wonder and delight with its omelet-stuffing companions. This allows crisp bacon to not be completely limp and unsatisfying by the time its in the omelet and ready to eat. Add bacon about 2/3 into the above process.
While these things are happening, in a vessel of your choice, two eggs, a splash of milk, salt, pepper. If you love pesto, which everyone should, throw a spoonful or two in. Whip it with a fork, but don’t go crazy. The longer you whip, the more you break down the egg. Pour this into the pan.
What happens next is a combination of experience and intuition. The goal is to evenly cook as much raw egg liquid as possible prior to the flip, while keeping the ever-thickening egg surface from latching onto your pan. We want an omelet moving freely within and around the pan. Depending on the amount of cooked ingredients, how much milk was used, how big the eggs were, how much egg white was lost when you cracked the egg too hard, how much water did the onion and tomato give off, etc., you will have varying amounts of raw egg liquid. A couple of different moves:
– Hold the pan above the burner, as you tilt the pan to the left and right and around, the egg will follow gravity around. Thin egg areas can be lifted to allow egg liquid to slide under.
– As liquid rotates around the edge, a thin layer will solidify against the wall of the pan, every couple of layers, give the omelet wall a cuticle push back down onto the omelet.
– bubbles may gently form in the middle while cooking. Purists will say not to pop them. I say do what you feel. If you pop them, you can slide liquid in the hole, and get rid of more.
Get rid of as much of the egg liquid pre-flip as possible. While managing this, what we are paying attention to: the longer the egg cooks, the more it moves as one, giving it more weight. We want a good solid base underneath, because it’s momentum that will land our 180 clean. Now its game time.
This move has a name. It is not a name I gave this move. It is not a name I am going to write in something that will exist forever. Come find me and ask if you really must know. I may even tell you the real answer. But here’s the move. We must flip this egg. It’s still partly raw egg on top, some dispersal of randomly weighted ingredients throughout and an ever thickening base. Tilt the pan away from you and in one motion, as the egg slides off the edge of the tilting downward pan away from you, a flip of the wrist brings the formerly tilting down-and-away pan back up and hooking back towards you. Ideally, the egg and liquid all pull a 180 and land cleanly in pan. It’s what the kids used to call “tight” or “wicked” or “rad” FroBird would call it “G.”
I once had to pretend to be interested while my college roomate’s brother, upon learning of my omelet aptitude, told me of how he would cook the add-ons (onion, tomato, ham, etc.) first in his omelet pan, then remove them, presumably to let them get cold and soggy. Then, in the same pan, cook his egg, and then tuck his cold and wet add-ons into his egg blanket. Thats obviously not how he sold it to me, its just how I remember him describing it.
Wow. Where do I start? Cooking the add-ons fully creates surface tension even on your non-stick surface. This is going to latch on to the egg when poured, you’ll never stay detached from the pan enough to get a clean flip. In the same way that heat isn’t gone from your stovetop because you turned off a burner, the ingredients we added at the beginning don’t stop cooking just because we add egg. You must cook your initial ingredients knowing that they will continue to cook in the egg and during the melting of cheese (my favorite part).
If everything has gone well, we are looking at the fully-cooked former underbelly of our omelet. If things didn’t go well, you now, literally, have scrambled eggs. (Finish cooking and enjoy.) If you are still with us, this is when we would add feta, blue, or any shredded cheeses. This is also where you would put in some wilted spinach or anything else that didn’t want to cook with the initial bunch. This is where you should grace your omelet with some slices of avocado. Holy macaroni, it’s amazing. As the cheese begins to melt, the rest of the liquid egg is cooking, now underneath. The finishing move is to slide half the omelet out of the pan and onto your plate, lifting the pan over to fold the omelet onto itself on the plate.
There it is.
Just one of my thesis projects from 28 years in A.P. Fat-Kid.