The classic egg omelet, folded over your favorite fillings like cheese, ham, mushrooms and spinach, is a weekend breakfast staple in many homes and brunch restaurants. Frying the omelets in a skillet is the traditional and most common way to cook omelets, but it isn’t the only option. Your oven and even your microwave are useful alternatives to the frying pan.
Classic Skillet Omelet
Originating in France, the standard frying pan method of making omelets is relatively simple but takes practice to master. You’ll need about two or three eggs beaten together with a dash of salt and pepper. Melt a generous pat of butter in an 8- or 9-inch skillet. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan and let them cook just until the edges start to set. Shake the pan vigorously back and forth over the burner while gently stirring the eggs with a silicone spatula. Once the bottom is slightly set, remove from the heat and tap the skillet firmly on the stove to loosen the egg from the skillet. Sprinkle in any fillings, such as shredded cheese, in the middle. Fold one side of the omelet halfway over the filling. Slide the omelet onto the serving plate so that the folded side falls on top of the unfolded side to complete the omelet.
Although not traditional, baking omelets allows you to make a larger number of omelets at one time. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Saute anything you want to include in the omelet, such as sliced potatoes, bacon, or mushrooms, in a large, oven-proof skillet. Drain any excess fat from bacon or other fatty meats you cook. Beat four or five eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. Stir in any shredded cheese you are including as well. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet on top of any of the ingredients you just cooked. Tilt the pan to make sure the eggs are evenly distributed, then place in the oven to bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and slice the hot omelet into individual portions to serve.
When you’re in a hurry, or don’t feel like breaking out the skillet, you can cook an omelet in the microwave. Spread melted butter all over a glass pie plate and beat two or three eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave the eggs on high for two to three minutes. Rotate the pie pan about a quarter turn every 30 seconds if your microwave doesn’t have a rotating plate. Remove the omelet and make sure all the visible liquid has been cooked. The center will be slightly soft and the edges firmly set. Add any fillings you would like onto one half of the omelet, then fold the other side over top of it. Serve hot.
Omelets Around the World
Try cooking variations of the classic omelet from around the world. The frittata is a thicker, Italian-style omelet in which all the fillings are incorporated into the eggs as they are cooked over low heat. It is served open-faced. For Thai-style omelets, the egg mixture includes fish sauce, cornstarch and a splash of vinegar, and is beaten until frothy. The eggs are cooked in an oiled wok over high heat, which creates a very puffy, crispy omelet with a soft center. The Japanese-style omelet, or dashi-maki tamago, is drastically different from traditional omelets. The eggs are mixed with sugar, soy sauce and warm dashi, a Japanese stock made with dried bonito flakes and seaweed. Just a spoonful of the egg mixture is cooked in a skillet at a time and rolled into a tiny log with chopsticks. This procedure is repeated several times, with each layer folded over the rolled egg to create a thick log. The log is then shaped with a sushi mat and cut into chunky bites.
References and ResourcesRandom House: Recipes from Mastering The Art of French Cooking - Omelettes
Fine Cooking: Classic French Omelet
Barefoot Contessa at Home; Ina Garten
Microwave Magic; Jennifer Marshall-Jenkinson
Incredible Egg: How to Make Microwave Omelets
Delallo: La Frittata: An Egg Dish With Endless Possibilities
Serious Eats: My Thai: Thai-Style Omelet (Khai-Jiao)
Food and Wine: Japanese-Style Folded Omelet