My daughter married into a warm hug of a Big Family of cooks, including professional chefs. Thanksgiving, even the casual one we’re having this year, has Menus that the matriarch and her offspring work on well in advance. I love Thanksgiving there; we can talk about anyTHING — religion, politics, sex. But not eggs. I was warned about eggs. Eggs are so important that how to scramble them has divided the family for years. Here’s an omelette recipe: Let the controversy begin!
A Simple Recipe
* 3 eggs, separated
* 3 TBSP of dairy or dairy sub
* Cheese, fillings, as desired
* 1-2 TBSP of fat
In my previous post, on the Art of the Omelette, I describe the three bowl method of separating eggs. Do I really do all that? Yes, if I’m making more than three eggs worth and need to whip up the whites into peaks, stiff or soft. If it’s just TWO eggs, my usual? I have a bowl for yolks ready, then I might just put the whites straight into the cup of my Bullet mixer. If it’s a big, brunchy THREE egg omelette? Yeaah, I do break out the glass bowl for the whites, so I can inspect for errant yolk specks. A bit fussy, I know.
For this big, brunchy omelette, I set the egg whites on the counter for an hour or so, to let them try to get to something like room temperature. My stand mixer is currently vacationing at my daughter’s house, so I make do with the Bullet.
Next I assemble my ingredients, the mise en place for omelette construction. A plain omelette is fairly bland. It needs seasonings to wake it up, if only turns of a pepper mill and a sprinkling of salt.
The Fat Question
While I love the taste of an omelette fried in butter, frying in butter isn’t a great idea–because butter has a tendency to burn easily. The milk solids in butter need a bit of buffering. Chefs often add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to butter, and this offers a lovely flavor. Whenever I use butter alone, a burned omelette bottom is always a potential issue, so I hedge my bets, adding a tablespoon of good California olive oil and a pat of butter–or just ghee, which has the mild solids removed. Ghee has slightly less flavor than the butter and olive oil combo but a much higher “smoke point.” It’s much more unlikely to burn if I misjudge the temperature.
Bacon fat, coconut oil, or ghee also do very well as fats for frying omelettes. Bacon fat can impart a nice smoky flavor. Even beef tallow or lard is great. If you must use a seed oil, that’s fine, but you’ll be missing out in terms of flavor. This is a dirty keto recipe, you make your own choices. 🙂
Fresh herbs wake up a plain omelette nicely–but even dried herbs are great. I often pair turmeric with smoked paprika; turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, very good for the body, and smoked paprika is a nice complement. I like white pepper, dried coriander, but I don’t use salt until AFTER the egg is cooked–as I’ve read the cooking the egg with salt will create a tougher, less tender omelette.
Fresh herbs that are leafy, like leaf parsley or cilantro are best served as a garnish after the omelette has been plated. Woody herbs can be set in the pan with the fat while it heats up. A stem of rosemary or a several stems of thyme can be set in the pan and removed BEFORE you put the eggs in, to flavor the oil (and the pan). I take them out before pouring in the egg mixture, taking only a few leaves to sprinkle on the top of the egg mixture when it’s cooking in the pan.
Cheese and Fillings
These are the totally optional ingredients. They make the omelette have more flavor — but you can mix it up or leave them out entirely and have a good meal.
Cheeses are the ultimate flavor additions to omelettes. Let’s face it, eggs every day for breakfast can get tedious unless you mix it up regularly — and cheese is an amazingly transformative ingredient. If you’re unfamiliar with anything outside of cheddar and parmesan, here’s a little slideshow of 13 cheeses to get you started.
Funnily enough, I have never been a big cheese fan until I went LCHF. Not on this list are some of my big favorites: fontina, which melts beautiful, and brie, which can be combines with fruits for a sweet omelette. A nice keto friend combination: brie cheese and reduced sugar “craisins” (cranberry raisins).
Cheeses are added after the eggs are in the pan. For hard cheeses, I use a microplaner and grate the cheese into a fluffy heap in a bowl, waiting til the eggs are cooking, to be sprinkled on top.
Other fillings usually need to be pre-cooked.
Onions should be chopped into a small dice and put in the pan with fats. Cook them down using low heat and they’ll carmelize and get sweeter. This can take some time, so have patience — ten minutes with constant pushing them around in the pan so they don’t burn is about right. I don’t usually take that kind of time, just three minutes or so.
Peppers either green or red, orange or yellow, should be diced fairly small and added about a minute after the onions.
Mushrooms — white, portabella, or even some of the fancier kinds, add a meaty element and “umami” taste to omelettes. Quite good.
Spinach or kale needs to be washed and dried and chopped–or you can buy baby spinach and baby kale.
Step 1. Separate the eggs.
Step 2. Add the fat to the (oven-safe) omelette pan. I prefer an 8 inch pan. A six inch pan WILL create a somewhat taller omelette, but it needs a touch of patience, perhaps a lower temperature to get the insides cooked before the bottom is overcooked.
Step 3. After the fat gets hot, add the woody stems of fresh herbs, if you’re using them. Add the onions, if using, and start them cooking for at least 2 or 3 minutes.
Step 4. Fish out the stems of herbs and set them aside on a plate.
Add the peppers and mushrooms (if using). Get them nice and brown, another 2 minutes or so. Put in the spinach and let that wilt while you turn to the EGGS!
Step 5. Add a tablespoon or two of dairy to the yolks and whisk. I like heavy cream, but I also have been known to use ricotta, or milk, or creme fraiche, or a nut milk. They all work nicely to give a soft texture to the omelette.
Step 6. Add cream of tartar to the egg whites (about a 1/2 tsp) or a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice–and whisk them (or use a mixer) until they reach twice their volume. If you don’t have either cream of tartar, lemons or limes, don’t sweat it. The acid helps the whites to create good bubbles.
Step 7. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the yolks mixture, stirring them until they’re just combined.
Step 8. Pour the egg mixture into the pan on top of whatever you’ve been cooking. While the eggs being to set, sprinkle the grated cheese on top (if using). I sprinkle on extra seasoning —turmeric and paprika–at this point, too. Coriander is also nice.
Step 9. Turn on the broiler to about 550 to 600 degrees F. When the eggs look dry around the ends and it’s mostly set (perhaps a little soupy), I take the pan off the stovetop and put it under the broiler for about 2 minutes. This makes the top of the omelette set and perhaps turn slightly brown. You HAVE to keep an eye on this.
If you got the egg whites nicely whipped, and the broiler nicely hot, the eggs should “puff” a bit. The puffing may not be very noticeable. (My oven JUST ISN”T hot enough to make a good poufy omelette!.) Take the pan out of the oven. You should be able to fold it over and slip it onto a plate.
Add fresh leafy herbs if you wish — cilantro or parsley is nice.
And it’s done! I’m rather fond of adding a streak of sriracha sauce across the top– a garlic hot sauce from Thailand –my daughter prefers “Texas Pete’s” hot sauce. But that’s it. I’m still trying to figure out how to make these EVEN PUFFIER. I’m not sure if the separating the eggs from the yolks and doing them separately IS worth the trouble. There will be more omelette recipes to come, to test the matter.
Enjoy! ~ Lola