Cook's Illustrated (April 2013)
As the write-up accompanying this Cook's Illustrated recipe says, there are basically three kinds of omelets.
There's the French omelet, with its uniform, creamy crepe-like texture and sparse accoutrements.
There's the American diner omelet, with its thicker texture and slightly scorched exterior bursting with cheese and other fillings.
And then there's the fluffy omelet. It's light and delicate and ethereal.
It was time for us to round out the trifecta.
We were more than a little intrigued at the idea of an omelet with the texture of a souffle. Truth be told, we've never really encountered one before on a menu or at someone's house. But we were very interested to try it ourselves.
The prep for this is unlike any omelet we'd ever tried before. You separate the eggs and whip the whites like you're making a meringue. Then you carefully fold in the yolks, spread the mixture in a hot saucepan, sprinkle with your toppings, and then bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
It's all rather easy. (You can hand-whip the whites if you don't have a stand mixer.)
But it wouldn't be a Bitten Word Omelet without a little disaster. In this case, that meant accidentally whomping the omelet upside down on the cutting board to rest, rather than elegantly sliding it off the pan.
We were able to use a plate to invert the whole thing to put the omelet right-side up again.
So how did it turn out? Let us divide our answer into two parts.
A) The taste. The omelet tasted wonderful. Cook's offers three suggested recipes for fillings. We opted for our own -- we'd been at the farmers market early, and we spied the first ramps and asparagus of the season. We were so excited to see them, we immediately decided to use them in our omelet. (Our ramps-and-asparagus filling is below.) So the flavors were eggs, Parmesan, ramps and asparagus -- pretty hard for that not to taste delicious.
B) The texture. We didn't like it. Really, not much at all. As promised, the omelet is incredibly fluffy. It's light and airy and ethereal -- and we weren't fans. It tasted like a savory meringue. And not in a good way, at least not to us. We may be at fault -- it's very possible that we overwhipped our egg whites, past the point that "stiff peaks just start to for," which made them even fluffier than intended. Still, we're sure there are plenty of people who would love these fluffy omelets. We're just not among them.
What about you? What's your go-to omelet prep? Any tricks or secrets worth sharing?
A teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice can be used in place of the cream of tartar, and a hand-held mixer or a whisk can be used in place of a stand mixer.
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 recipe filling
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg yolks, melted butter, and salt together in a bowl. Place egg whites in bowl of stand mixer and sprinkle cream of tartar over surface. Fit stand mixer with whisk and whip egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks just start to form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites until no white streaks remain.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. When butter foams, quickly add egg mixture, spreading into even layer with spatula. Remove pan from heat and gently sprinkle filling and Parmesan evenly over top of omelet. Transfer to oven and cook until center of omelet springs back when lightly pressed, 4 1/2 minutes for slightly wet omelet and 5 minutes for dry omelet.
3. Run spatula around edges of omelet to loosen, shaking gently to release. Slide omelet onto cutting board and let stand for 30 seconds. Using spatula, fold omelet in half. Cut omelet crosswise and serve immediately.
Suggested Fillings From Cook's Illustrated
Asparagus and Ramp Filling
Recipe from The Bitten Word
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 bunch thin asparagus, slided crossedwise into 1/4 inch pices
1/2 bunch ramps, washed and chopped, with white parts and leaves separated
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the whites of the ramps, stirring until softened, 5 minutes. Add asparagus, stirring occassionally, 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add green parts of ramps, stir often, continuing to cook until wilted, 2 to 4 minutes more.