Firstly, let's get the issue of milk out of the way and then we will never talk about it again. Many years of suffering have resulted from adding milk to the egg mixture when making an omelette: scrambled eggs use milk, pancakes need milk, and pikelets1 must have milk. However, to make an omelette, the egg mixture should contain only undiluted eggs. Or, if you must add some liquid and if you have a very low cholesterol reading and you want to live dangerously, you could add a single tablespoon of cream.
Secondly, one should mention flour, since a few recipes for omelettes have erroneously and spuriously included it in the ingredients. If an omelette is made using that recipe the result could double as building material. A properly-made omelette is one of the most delicate dishes one can eat, unlike the pancake which, exactly as a consequence of the flour, can be a stodgy affair. So, no flour.
Of course, it is also nonsense to think that an omelette will result simply by not stirring the egg mixture when cooking scrambled eggs.
Lastly, the dish that is sometimes called a Spanish omelette (tortilla) is not an omelette at all, but rather, a crustless quiche made in a frying pan having an entirely different cooking method.
Types of Omelette
There are three main types of omelette: fluffy, non-fluffy, and soufflé. The first two should really be seen as a continuum or spectrum, which can be fun to explore by experimenting with different amounts of beating. The principle is as you'd expect; more beating means more air, which makes the omelette more fluffy. Less beating means less air which gives you a slightly less fluffy omelette. A soufflé-type omelette involves beating the white separately and folding in the yolk. A teaspoon of water may be added before adding the yolk to allow a bit of runnyness in the mix. Making a soufflé omelette is a science in itself and not for the faint-hearted.
Cooking the Omelette
It is important to use a good non-stick frying pan with a solid bottom. The size of pan you use depends on how big you want your omelette to be, but the bigger the omelette the harder it is to make. The general preference is for the smallest non-stick frying pan you can buy (about 20cm or 8 inches) which is sufficient for a two-egg omelette.
The best omelettes are made when cooking with gas because you have more control over the heat. If you are stuck with cooking electrically you will have to plan your heat reductions and be prepared to take the pan off the hot plate if necessary.
- Olive oil
- Cheese (mozzarella is great in omelettes, especially with fresh coriander)
Over a medium heat melt half a teaspoon of butter and add a drizzle of olive oil.
To the beaten egg mixture add a tiny pinch of salt and a good solid grind of fresh pepper.
When the pan is hot and the butter is beginning to brown, add the egg mixture.
After about one minute push the edges of the forming omelette away from the edge of the pan all around, allowing the part of the mixture which is still runny to run to the edge. While the top is still moist flip the omelette over in the pan2
If making a cheese omelette you may now put your grated cheese on the newly revealed and slightly browned surface and fold the omelette in half. Other fillings can be added at the same time as the cheese, such as mushrooms and chopped bacon but these obviously need to be pre-cooked.
Turn the heat down slightly and after a couple of minutes cook the other side of the folded-over omelette. Of course, there is no need to fold if making a plain omelette, but those of the fluffy school like it that way because it makes for a fluffier texture.
For a soufflé omelette the most common method of cooking involves cooking it on one side only, then folding it over in half, then leaving in the pan for a few seconds to allow the inside to cook.
When done, remove to a plate and allow to stand for a for a minute or two depending on the temperature of the room.
When serving an omelette, there's really no substitute for freshly baked crusty white bread with a generous amount of unsalted butter and a garnish of freshly chopped parsley. However, those worried about their colon, may substitute white bread for good wholemeal bread.