How to Make a Basic OmeletAs a general rule, plan on three eggs per omelet serving. If you are serving it as a dinner meal with side dishes, two eggs per omelet will usually suffice. Any more than three eggs per omelet makes it unmanageable to cook. The eggs should be as fresh as possible and at room temperature. The yolks are generally separated from the whites, beaten, and then folded together for added volume. Some like to add milk to the eggs, but adding a tablespoon of cold water or plain, unflavored seltzer will make the omelet lighter and fluffier. Salt should be added at the table to avoid toughening the omelet.
Have your fillings, sauces, and side dishes all prepared in advance and ready to assemble the omelet to insure the food arrives at the table hot.
The pan should be hot enough to make the butter or oil sizzle when you add it. Unsalted, clarified butter is less likely to result in a sticky omelet. After adding the eggs to the hot pan, keep them moving by constantly pushing the cooked portions to the side so the runny part runs to the side. Loosen the omelet from the bottom of the pan with a spatula if necessary, so it slides easily.
The eggs should be nearly cooked, but still wet, before filling and folding. They will continue to cook even when removed from the heat. If you are using cheese, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the surface before filling and folding. Spread filling down the center.
Now comes the fold. Some like it folded in half, in which case it is simple enough to lift one side up and over the filling to match the opposite side. Others prefer the letter three-fold, which involves folding one third toward the center, then the opposite side toward the center, much like how a business letter is folded. Continue cooking a bit longer until the center is fully set. Some like it more firm, while others like it soft, so cooking time will vary. However, each omelet should take no more than two to three minutes from the time the eggs hit the pan. If you use the letter-fold, serve with flap sides down. If you like a pretty glossy finish, lightly brush the top of the omelet with melted butter, which will also give added flavor.
Omelet FillingsFillings can range from vegetables to meats to seafood, and even fruit. Anything goes! Whatever you use, be sure the filling is at least at room temperature, preferably warm, but not hot. Some like the crunch of fresh vegetables, but I prefer to either quick saute or blanch them first, just long enough to take away the rawness and bite. Leftovers make good fillings. Plan on 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling per each three-egg omelet. There are no set rules, so follow your own tastes. A sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley or chives nicely complements the yellow of the omelet.
Omelet PansChoose a non-stick pan with at least a 5-inch base and sides sloping outward to 7 inches. It should have a thick base that will distribute heat evenly. Some folks swear by a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for omelets. If this works for you, by all means go for it! It is important that the surface of the pan be smooth and unmarred, otherwise the omelet will stick. Most households have one pan dedicated strictly to eggs and treat it with tender loving care, always careful not to nick or scratch it. There are also fancy omelet pans available that fold in the center to help those who are flip-challenged.
Think ahead if you are making a frittata that will be finished in the oven. You'll need to begin with an oven-proof skillet and have the oven preheated.
More about Omelets and Frittatas: How to Make an Omelet
The Difference Between Omelets and Frittatas
Omelet and Frittata History
Omelet and Frittata Cooking Tips and Hints
Omelet Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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