Friday, June 5, 2009

Puffy Omelets

Another thing that Mom had no time for was omelets of any kind. Omelets are very easy for anyone to do. Except for me for some reason. I do not have the touch. I do them of course, once in a great while, but I just cannot keep them from sticking. Perhaps it is because I do not have a well seasoned Omelet pan. It really does help. Or, I just don't have that twist of the wrist or something that it requires. I can do it...really I can, but it is not in my nature.
Now, Puffy omelets are another story. One of my great regrets, and I know you have read a few of them, is selling my long handled omelet pan when I divorced.
When I was cooking over the open fires at the museum, I had a forged iron pan with a five foot handle. It was great. It was seasoned from two centuries of use, and things tasted great in it. I could do omelets in that without even thinking.
That pan was much like the ones used at Mere Poullard's in Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. Famous for their puffy omelets made form eggs gathered that morning, they had great copper pans to whip the egg whites in. There was a rhythm of clack-clack-clack-tap over and over again as they whipped the whites in the copper. Much like the rhythm you get when forging Iron on the anvil. The copper made the whites rise to impossible heights. It serves us better however to do them in a regular bowl here in the United States. I find the beautiful puffy omelets a little under done for my taste in France. There is that word again...Baveuse....a soft quivering mass of egg. They browned nicely on the outside, but the top never cooked enough for me, and when folded in half, the beauty, though incomparable, was only a disguise for undercooked eggs.
So, to please my palate, lets try a variation that is more likely to please the masses.

Separate three eggs. Beat and reserve the yolks on the side. If you had the big pan like I had, you could easily do a dozen, but to my mind, they never cooked well and you really need the second option below.

Place the whites in a copper bowl(If you have one, and it is scrupulously clean) or another large bowl which allows plenty of arm room. Alternatively, you may use a mixer for this, but there is something about the whipping of eggs that is much like kneading the bread dough that is very satisfying. With a balloon whisk, beat the egg whites to a froth, add a bit of salt to taste(or sugar if you want a sweet omelet.) and continue to beat till peaks nearly form. These should be very, soft, and if they start to dry, your cause is lost. See Corn Oysters post.

Season the yolks with salt, pepper, sugar, Liqueurs (like anisette or Grand Marnier), finely grated citrus fruit peels, or anything that you fancy.

Pour the yolk mixture over the top of the whites. Fold in till the color is nearly uniform. Do this by plunging the sharp edge of a rubber scraper or similar instrument to the bottom of the bowl along one side. Slowly raise the bottom mixture up from near the middle and allow it to drape itself loosely over the rest of the mixture. Continue this process while rotating the bowl till all has been mixed. The object is to work lightly and gently so as not to deflate the whites.

Using a very large skillet, preheat it over medium heat. When the pan is quite hot, pour in some clarified butter(discussed elsewhere), remove from the heat, and wipe the entire pan using a paper towel. Coat the entire pan with the butter.

Return it to the heat. and add a large knob of butter to the pan. When it has melted, pour in the egg mixture. In France, the omelet would not be allowed to sit still at first. When the movement of the pan shows that the omelet has not stuck to the pan, you can stop shaking. You might prefer to simply lift the edge of the omelet after a few seconds to release it. You will have to experiment with the pan you are using, and a non stick will help. Allow the omelet to cook over reduced heat for several minutes, till the bottom is nicely golden brown.

A. Make sure the omelet is released from the pan, Drop condiments on the top, and slide halfway out of the pan onto a serving plate. Before it leaves the pan, turn the pan nearly upside down toward the omelet to fold in half.

B. Alternatively, you may place any condiments on top and run the whole pan under the broiler to brown the top. Either fold as above onto the serving plate, or slide out onto a plate to serve like a cake.


Brown a little white sugar on top under the broiler if you have used a sweet liqueur. Perhaps a sprinkling of minced candied peel. You could also add Moscarpone to this.

Jam on top with a sweet omelet.

Caramelized onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, Spring onions etc..


Cheese. Moscarpone or ricotta, either mixed with Parmesan or sugar depending on savoury or sweet eggs,

Sliced, grilled tomato and mozzarella with pesto or basil, or perhaps a garlic infused oil.

Truffles planed on top.

Truffle oil.

Gruyere and chopped toasted hazelnuts.

Rosemary ham. Not that much more than regular ham at the deli, but WOW what a difference. Avoid any other flavors with this. Delicate but delicious. Also good shaved rice paper thin and mounded on top of grilled bread with the omelet. Add an asparagus tip or two.

Ham, asparagus, Hollandaise.

Bacon and cheese.

Grilled mushrooms with Gruyere.

Slivered almonds(toasted), jam and Brie cheese.

Finely crumbled Feta, black olives, grilled cherry tomatoes and spinach grilled with garlic.

Lamb or tenderloin of beef thinly sliced and grilled just till pink in the center with scallions and topped with Parmesan.

Do not use large amounts of very strong cheeses with this, or other sharp flavors. Limit anything strong that you do use as the whole dish is mild. Just a touch of filling is enough. If you want a stronger all round flavor, mix a bit of the minced filling in with the egg yolks.

Poor Alberta Burrill. I served this to her once, and she looked at me like I had placed an Iguana on the table. For all her attempts at worldliness, she found such things a real shock to her system. You should have seen her when I took her for Pizza at Al's Restaurant in Houlton.

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