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America's Test Kitchen's French Omelet

The Leonard Lopate Show

Monday, December 14, 2009

 

Why This Recipe Works: In contrast to half-moon diner-style omelets, the French omelet is a pristine rolled affair. The temperature of the pan must be just right, the eggs beaten just so, and hand movements must be swift. We decided to ditch the stuffy attitude and come up with a foolproof method for making the ideal French omelet—unblemished golden yellow with an ultra-creamy texture, rolled around minimal filling.

The classic method requires a black carbon steel omelet pan and a fork, but a nonstick skillet worked fine here. Instead of a fork, which scraped our nonstick pans, bamboo skewers and wooden chopsticks gave us small curds with a silky texture. Preheating the pan for 10 minutes over low heat eliminated any hot spots. For creaminess, we added very cold butter, which dispersed evenly and fused with the eggs for a moist, rich omelet. To keep the omelet light, we found the perfect number of strokes; excessive beating unravels egg proteins, leading to denseness. We tried different heat levels, but even at medium heat, the omelet cooked so quickly it was hard to judge when it was done, so we turned off the heat when it was still runny and covered it to finish cooking. Finally, for an easy rolling method, we slid the omelet onto a paper towel and used the towel to roll the omelet into the sought-after cylinder.

 

Because making these omelets is such a quick process, make sure to have all your ingredients and equipment at the ready. If you don’t have skewers or chopsticks to stir the eggs in step 3, use the handle of a wooden spoon. Warm the plates in a 200‑degree oven.

 

            2          tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

            1/2      teaspoon vegetable oil

            6          large eggs, chilled

                        Table salt and ground black pepper

            2          tablespoons shredded Gruyère cheese

            4          teaspoons minced fresh chives

 

1. Cut 1 tablespoon of the butter in half. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces, transfer to a small bowl, and place in the freezer while preparing the eggs and the skillet, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in an 8‑inch nonstick skillet over low heat for 10 minutes.

2. Crack 2 of the eggs into a medium bowl and separate a third egg; reserve the white for another use and add the yolk to the bowl. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Break the yolks with a fork, then beat the eggs at a moderate pace, about 80 strokes, until the yolks and whites are well combined. Stir in half of the frozen butter cubes.

3. When the skillet is fully heated, use paper towels to wipe out the oil, leaving a thin film on the bottom and sides of the skillet. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the reserved butter piece to the skillet and heat until melted. Swirl the butter to coat the skillet, add the egg mixture, and increase the heat to medium-high. Following the photos on page 418, use two chopsticks or wooden skewers to scramble the eggs using a quick circular motion to move around the skillet, scraping the cooked egg from the side of the skillet as you go, until the eggs are almost cooked but still slightly runny, 45 to 90 seconds. Turn off the heat (remove the skillet from the heat if using an electric burner) and smooth the eggs into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the omelet with 1 tablespoon of the Gruyère and 2 teaspoons of the chives. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and let sit, 1 minute for a runnier omelet and 2 minutes for a firmer omelet.

 

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