The French omelette, unlike our American counterpart, isn’t about the filling. In its pure state, there’s nothing but eggs, salt and pepper. Done right, it’s tender, elegant, understated, charming…everything you wish you were as a conversationalist. Making one requires technique. A bunch of gooey cheese and ham won’t be there to help matters, so you just have to cook it well. No pressure.
It may sound counterintuitive, but cook yours first. Not only will it ensure hers is hot when you serve them, it will season the pan. Like pancakes, the second one is always better.
The technique I’ve settled on is to add a teaspoon of water for each egg, which hits the hot pan and immediately evaporates to lift the eggs and make the omelette fluffy. This is an exercise in timing. But judging from what it took to get you here, you’re already a master of that. Unlike scrambled eggs—which are all about patience and coaxing—the omelette is a 30-second, high-heat affair. You can’t hesitate. Pour in the eggs, never stop shaking the pan and have the coffee already made.
The French Omelette
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 grinds of fresh pepper
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (optional)
(Serves one. Repeat, but don’t double, for two. Omelettes are cooked one at a time.)
1. In a mixing bowl or measuring jar, combine the eggs, salt, pepper, and water. Whisk vigorously to combine.
2. Heat a small skillet between 8 and 10 inches wide, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until drops of water dance on the surface. Add the butter, which will sputter and foam. When the foam subsides, and the butter just begins to color and smell nutty, add the egg mixture all at once.
3. Immediately, begin to shake the pan to distribute the eggs all over the surface and up the sides. Technique varies; some suggest pulling up the sides of the omelette and tilting the pan to let uncooked egg slide under, or using a spatula to gently break holes in the eggs to let uncooked egg run there. What’s important is to never stop shaking the pan. It helps prevent any browning, a sign that the eggs are tough and you’ve overcooked it. Remember, it will keep cooking off the heat. If desired, sprinkle the interior of the omelette with herbs or a little sharp cheese.
4. Using a spatula, fold one side of the omelette one-third of the way toward the opposite side, like the first fold of a letter. Tip the omelette out of the pan with the folded side towards the plate, then roll it onto the dish so both sides are folded under. Serve immediately with buttered toast.