Did you know that every year on Easter Monday, the townspeople of the Southern French town of Haux crack more than 4500 eggs to make a giant omelet that feeds more than 1000 people. The origin of this tradition dates back to when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the South of France.
Imagine the pressure of the chickens of the weeks before! The planning, the feed, the cuddles.
Do you love an omelet? It’s almost so simple, that perhaps it is often overlooked. A freshly made omelet, with fresh free range eggs, a touch of butter, just chopped chives and a smear of rich creamy brie in the center is a dish of beauty.
The trio of the omelet’s brilliance is as much to do with the quality of the eggs, as it is the quality of the pan used, and then the deftness & experience of the maker.
Like most cooking, your mise en place is crucial. Room temperature eggs, butter, herbs, cheese at the ready, along with your favourite side dishes – crispy bacon, smoked salmon, sautéed mushrooms or roasted tomatoes, all warm in the oven ready to add. A bowl ready to whisk your eggs, a fork is fine, a silicone spatula to scrape all the mixture into the pan, and a small lifter to transfer your omelet to the plate.
Two eggs cracked into your bowl, please don’t add salt or milk here. Salt will toughen the eggs before cooking, and there is no need for milk, if anything, I like a touch of cream, or a tablespoon of water. By hand as well, a food processor or stick blender will cut all the lovely protein bonds, and these are what keeps the moisture in the eggs, over whisking leads to a dry leather chew. No thank you.
This is ballet in the kitchen, it’s a quick pirouette of cracking, whisking, swirling, never taking your eyes off the pan, using a cloth to hold the handle of the pan, for even the “oooh, ouch, it’s hot” will mean an overcooked rubber slab, instead of a delightful just set barely colored golden reward.
My choice for an omelet pan is a lead free ceramic coated pan, I only use this pan for omelets & crêpes. No metal scratches, and after heating evenly, a swirl of butter melts immediately, just to the nutty pale brown before adding the whisked eggs.
Swirling to cover the base of the pan, and lowering back on the heat, it’s a lift in three places to let the egg mixture to run underneath, form a just cooked base, where you can then add fillings of a slice of brie, chervil, chives or parsley, remove the pan from the heat, tip on a slight angle to help the curl of the just set eggs ready to fold over on itself, nudged along with your lifter, and glider straight onto your warm plate. Another pat of butter, a sprinkle of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, and bliss is yours.
Hoppy Easter, Bernadette x.