Omelets, the easy way

A how-to guide for the occasional cook

Citation
, XML
Authors

Abstract

These tasty treats can be pretty easy to whip up, but only if you know some tricks. Cooked eggs, cheese and onion are a perfect flavor combination, and make a good impression on your houseguest(s).

Not as easy as throwing a burrito in the microwave, but well worth the 20 minutes needed to make a decent omelet. Nothing will impress your guest(s) as much as presenting them with a savory dish composed of everyone’s favorite ingredients. So even if your cooking skills are a bit unproven, you can still pull this little hat trick out. You’ll find different advice in other guides, but it won’t make the omelet look or taste significantly better. In this guide, I’m a little-heavy handed in helping you to avoid the mistakes that I overcame.

Requirements:

  • eggs (but not over two weeks old!)
  • Rotel (chopped tomatoes and peppers in a little can. Keep a few cans around, you can melt it into Velveeta for a dip). You can also get diced tomatoes plus various other ingredients in cans by Del Monte, Hunts, etc.
  • some kind of meat
  • onion (fresh or dried)
  • shredded cheese. A bag of “mexican style” or Colby/Jack mixture is a safe choice, mild but cheesy.
  • an omelet pan. Round, about 8″ diameter or the same as the width of your hand with the fingers spread out, with a sloped bottom, so you can slide the omelet onto a dish easily and so that omelet is formed into a perfect circle.)
  • spatula. The flexible kind for stirring batter is best.
  • oil, butter or margarine (or cooking spray)
  • stove
  • oven-safe plates
  • paper towels (or dishcloth)
  • small bowls for each filling
  • a sieve to drain the diced tomato mixture
  • a bowl for the eggs
  • a spoon
  • a fork

Advance prep (optional)
If you know in advance that you are going to make omelets, and you want to cut down the time during cooking, prepare your diced tomato mixture the day before and keep it in the ‘fridge. You’ll usually have extra, so you can practice in advance, and then retain the extra.

Before you begin, round up all of the above. DO NOT skip this step. You won’t have time to do this once get rolling, omelets do not wait for you to find the cheese. Don’t multitask! Take the eggs out of the ‘fridge as early as possible, (up to a half hour before you get serious about cooking). This makes it a bit easier to control the cooking, if they don’t hit the pan ice cold. If using dried onion or garlic, prepare the diced tomato mixtures as much in advance as possible, even the day before (see below).

Decide how much time your guest(s) will take, after being called, to arrive at the table.

0 minutes
Turn your oven on the lowest setting and put the plates in it. Warm plates keep the served dish warmer longer and impress your guests.
Put your beverage glasses in the freezer. Nothing like really cold milk to accentuate the cooked dish.

Do not turn on the burner yet. Don’t preheat the pan. Don’t do it.

1 minute
How you proceed, depends on what kind of onion you are using. If fresh, dice it up now.

Open the can of Rotel and drain it (into a sieve, if you have one, using your spatula to squish out the juice). Put all or part of it into a small bowl or cup. If using dried onion or garlic, mix it into the Rotel now. Error on the side of caution if you don’t know how much to add, or how much your guest(s) like onion.

Open the bag of shredded cheese and position it near the stove, but not too close to the burner. It needs to stay cool. If the bag has become warm in the past, massage the cheese to break it up, so you can sprinkle it from the bag.

Do not touch the eggs yet. I’m serious. Don’t do it.

4 minutes
Ok, time to finish preparing the fillings. Sautee what you need to, microwave the rest. If your meat isn’t pre-cooked, sautee it now. If you are using fresh onion, sautee it now too. However, if you can afford to be lazy and if you aren’t pre-cooking anything else, like the meat or some mushrooms, you *can* microwave the onions. Whatever fillings that you do not sautee, put in the microwave and heat until edible.

Ok, you should now have *ALL* of your fillings precooked/heated in small bowls near the stove. Your cheese is ready, your cold pan is ready, the eggs are waiting.

10 minutes
Turn the stove burner to medium low. Put some oil, butter, margarine or cooking spray in your pan and put it on the burner. OK, *now* break the eggs into a bowl or very large cup. If you want to cut cholesteral, discard all but one yolk.
How many eggs? Eggs are cheap, so don’t be afraid to throw out unused egg mixture. You may end up abandoning some attempts, so have extra. When you are fairly skilled, you can go with 2 eggs per omelet (two whites = one whole egg). Take a fork and mix the eggs until whites and yolks are thoroughly mixed, about half a minute.

12 minutes
Turn the burner up to medium high. Wipe the pan with a paper towel to spread the oil and remove excess. Don’t burn yourself! In about one minute, the pan should be hot enough to start cooking. Pour some egg batter into the pan. Stop pouring when the pool of batter is at least an inch from the edges of the pan. Swirl the pan to spread the pool out. Cook until the eggs are almost set, but the top surface is still a little runny, adjusting the burner temperature, probably down to medium. It should take about 2 minutes.

Now dump the omelet in the trash. You may need to use the spatula to unstick parts of it.
The first omelet gets the pan “conditioned” and the temperature set correctly. If everything worked perfectly, you can use the first one, but plan on throwing it in the garbage.
NOW, you can cook omelets.

16 minutes
Pour in some more egg mixture as before, but as the thinner edges cook, starting teasing your spatula under the edges, and work it all the way around, but only under the edges. Shake and swirl the pan to see if the omelet is loose enough to slide around in the pan. Your goal is now to get it to cook as evenly as possible, without overcooking it. Here’s the big secret, a “cheat” if you will. Dig the edge of your spatula into the cooking mixture and tear a hole in the thing, pulling the cooked egg away from the hole to allow the uncooked egg to flow into the hole. Repeat in other areas, especially if you put too much egg mixture in the pan. Don’t worry, it won’t show in the end, and it is much, much better than an overcooked omelet. After giving the hole a few seconds to repair itself, swirl the pan to loosen the omelet. Tease it underneath with your spatula, if needed and swirl it again to break it loose.

OK, now the omelet is almost cooked, and it’s time to add the fillings. The top of the eggs should still be a bit runny, but grtting thick. Put the fillings on the half of the omelet that will be the bottom (left of the pan handle, if you are right-handed). Sprinkle the shredded cheese liberally. Use a spoon to dribble the diced tomato mixture, the meat, the onion and any optional fillings onto the almost cooked egg mixture. Time to fold the omelet. Use the spatula in your dominant hand, teasing it well under the middle, making sure that the part you are going to flip is compelety loose. You might want to tip the pan with your other hand, away from the spatula so you flip “downhill”. Flip with confidence. If you don’t get a very good flip, adjust it a bit.

19 minutes
Take a warmed plate out of the oven and put it near the pan.
Grab the pan’s handle with your non-dominant hand and tip the pan over the plate and use the spatula (if needed) to shove the delectable goodness onto the plate. Tip the pan with the handle up and slide the omlet out, tip first, instead of side edge first, so that the it doesn’t roll with the fold. Position the pan well over the plate, so that as the omelet starts to slide, you pull the pan out of its way, using the spatula (in your dominant hand) to guide it. Sprinkle some cheese on top. Garnish to impress.

20 minutes

If you have quite a few more omelets to make, you can put the first few back into the oven, but should then probably add the fillings a little earlier in the process (egg still a bit runnier).

If your guest(s) aren’t sitting at the table in anticipation, badger them into getting that way. Make another omelet. Give them the best one. Put the bag of cheese back in the fridge (to keep it from melting into one clump) and go eat. When you serve the dish, take the glasses out of the freezer and fill with your beverage of choice (milk, right?). Don’t forget the hot sauce (Tabasco, right?).

——

“Bachelor special”: For a different taste, use Bacos as your meat. Just sprinkle them into the Rotel, as far in advance as possible, so they soften up. They have a strong taste, so go easy on them. You’ll be burping up Baco taste for the next several hours (and appreciating how great a cook you’ve become each time).

—–

If you have diced tomato mixture left over, put some cling wrap on the bowl and make omelets again tomorrow.

———–
Alternate methods:
What works best for me, may not be the best for you. Here are some variations that others use.

  • Some people insist on adding a little milk to the egg mixture, but I’ve never noticed that adds anything.
  • Instead of digging holes, lift a side with the spatula and tip the pan so that uncooked egg runs underneath.
  • Unless your fillings are really weak on flavor, you don’t really need to add salt or pepper to the eggs.