How to Cook an Omelet - Tips for Making Great Omelettes
Have you given up making omelets because they end up dry and resemble scrambled eggs? Or are they tough like rubber? This article provides the tips and tricks to make the perfect omelets every time and some simple recipes to try. Omelets used to be primarily a breakfast dish but today you can have various omelets for lunch or dinner, especially in Asian restaurants. There are 3 general types of omelets: flat ( or non-fluffy), fluffy and soufflé. Omelets can be cooked flat or folded over with added filling ingredients inside. The differences are mostly due to the amount of beating before cooking the omelet. More beating introduces more air into the mixture, which makes the omelet more fluffy, providing you cook it correctly. Less beating means less air is introduced which means a flat or less fluffy omelets.
A soufflé-type omeles is produced by separating the whites and yolks - beating the white of the egg folding in the yolk. Making a soufflé omelets is difficult and the hardest to make and is not described in this article.
Tips for Making Great Omelets
Preparing the Egg Mixture
Choose high quality eggs with yellow yolks that are as fresh as possible and are at room temperature. There is many differences of option about mixing or beating the eggs. Usually a small amount of liquid such as milk, cream, water or chicken stock is added when mixing the eggs.
- The No beat Option - Don't beat the eggs but gently stir the yolks into the whites using a knife blade. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could add some chopped chives or some grated cheese to the eggs at this stage and gently mixed with the eggs using a fork or spatula.
- Beat in the Pan option - Break the eggs into the hot cooking pan and stir to mix. This method ensures a fluffier omelet when done quickly. Immediately add a small amount of milk, water, or chicken stock, while mixing. Why is liquid important? As the liquid evaporates the steam released puffs up the omelet mixture, making the omelet more fluffy.
- Lightly whisk option - the eggs and liquid are lightly whisked before cooking.
The Cooking Pan, Skillet or Omelet Pan
There are several points to consider for the pan. It should be just the right size and it is best to make an omelet for each person. If the pan is too large the omelet will not cook properly. If the pan is too small it will not cook through. The simplest and best option is a non-stick skillet or a special omelet pan. Cast iron pans work very well provided they are seasoned (cured) properly. You should also be aware than the pan retains a lot of heat and so the omelette should be removed from a cast iron pan immediately its cooked. As a basic guide, you need a 15 cm (6 inch) pan for a two-egg omelette and a 25 cm (10 inch) pan for a 4 to 6 egg omelette. Most people will have skillets of this size in their kitchens.
The Oil used for Cooking Omelets
Various types of cooking oil can used but select one with a high smoking point. This is because the pan should be very hot, especially when you first add the eggs. Some cooks recommend butter, but it is a goo idea to add a little high temperature vegetable oil to increase the smoking point. Omelets cooked in pure butter tend to brown when cooked and this may not appeal to some people. Make sure you don't burn the butter. Olive oil also has a low smoking temperature. For high temperatures the best options are corn oil, grape seed oil, rice bran oil, canola oil or peanut oil.
Cooking Temperature for Omelets
Place the skillet on the stove set at medium high and allow it to get medium hot before adding the cooking oil. Turn the heat to high. Let the pan and oil get very hot. Add the eggs and then lower the temperature to medium low for the final setting of the omelet.
Cooking Method for Omelets
To completely cook an omelet should only take one to two minutes for a plain omelet. Do not over-cook the omelet as it will tough and rubbery. The bottom of the omelet should have a light brown color, and not be too dark. Pour the egg mixture into the hot skillet in one go. Don't touch it the egg mixture for about10 seconds. As the eggs begin to set (dry and firm and bubbling around the edges) start drawing the edges with a spatula towards the centre and tilt the skillet about 45 degrees to make the liquid eggs on top pour onto the hot skillet. Tip the pan in the other direction and spread the liquid egg mixture. Keep tilting the pan to one side and the other, dragging in the edges. This cooking process will only take about 30 seconds. Continue this method until there is no liquid egg remaining on the top. As the eggs start to set, the entire omelet should be bound together and slide freely back and forth in the skillet. For a folded omelet, wait until the eggs are have just set on top, use a spatula to lift one side and fold the omelet in half. Remove the omelet from the pan to a plate and serve immediately.
Adding Extra Ingredients to Omelets
You add almost anything to an omelet. However make sure you use ingredients that compliment each other. Also the ingredients will not be cooked in the omelet, but merely heated and so you should ensure that items that need to be cooked and partly cooked before hand. This includes any meat and firm vegetables such as celery, carrots, onions, broccoli and green beans. All sorts of the fillings can be added to omelet include chopped onion and bell pepper, prawns and seafood, ground beef with onions, tomatoes, chili powder and jalapeno pepper. There are many options. These ingredients should be added to the eggs just before they are completely set and folded over. This means adding these ingredients in the last 10-20 seconds of the cooking.
When to Serve the Omelet
The final tip is to ensure you serve the omelet hot. You can keep an omelet hot for a few minutes by placing it in a glass baking dish, loosely covering it with aluminium foil, and then place in the oven set to very low. Don't leave the omelet in the oven for more than 5 minutes or it will dry out and many become rubbery and not very appealing. Since it only takes a few minutes to cook an omelet when you have all the ingredients prepared in advance, organise yourself to cook the omelets for your guests at the last minute.
Simple Goat Cheese Breakfast Omelet
- 3 free range eggs (at room temperature)
- 30 g of soft, mild goat’s cheese (rindless)
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Knob of butter
Lightly whisk three eggs with a generous pinch of salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Melt the butter in an omelet pan (or small heavy frying pan). When the the butter starts to foam, but before it browns, add the eggs. Cook for 1 minute, and then using a fork drag the cooked egg from the edges towards the middle, to create folds. Continue to cook and drag the outer cooked parts into the center until the base is cooked and just turning golden brown. Then, crumble the goat cheese over the top. Next move the omelet over to one side of the pan using a spatula. Fold the edges of the omelet over, and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately on buttered toast, topped with fresh herbs.
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson
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