I’ve been meaning to share this omelette recipe for years. Whisking the egg whites first, then folding them into the yolks makes for the perfect omelette, one that remains moist and airy while the exterior gets deliciously browned (I like greasing the pan with butter). My son enjoys this stuffed with minced baby spinach leaves and grated parmesan (we reduce the ingredients to 1 egg yolk, 1 egg white, 1tbs cream for him, and use a smaller frying pan for his souffle omelette). Over the past 6 years, it has become our family’s default omelette recipe.
As a junior college student in my late teens, I habitually ate overcooked, crepe-thin ham and cheese omelettes that were pathetically rubbery for breakfast in the school canteen. There’s something pretty magical about the combination of ham with cheese, even when it’s only a processed cheese single and a terribly pedestrian slice of picnic ham. Today, I am equally thrilled to have a ham and cheese croissant, or a kickass croque-monsieur or -madame.
I have a soft spot for omelettes because they’re so easy to prepare and can serve as a fabulous canvas for using up whatever ingredients you might have on hand. Frankly, I could have an omelette at any time of the day. Paired with a glass of wine and a side salad, it could serve you well as an end-of-a-weary-day dinner—although I tend to have it at breakfast time or lunch.
Omelette filling ideas
I personally prefer to cook whatever I’m stuffing my omelette with first. Semi-roasted tomatoes are a favourite. Whenever I chance upon a good deal at the supermarket, I’ll pick up a punnet or two of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes or, if I’m splurging, Japanese fruit tomatoes. All I do is slice them in half, place them in an oven safe pan (line with aluminium foil for minimal clean up), drizzle with olive oil, season generously with salt flakes (I like Murray River pink salt or Maldon), then roast in an oven pre-heated to 160 degrees Celsius on the convection setting for 40min. Place them in a sanitised glass jar, cover with more olive oil if necessary, and store in the refrigerator. They’re great in sandwiches and salads, too. Oven roasted capsicum, zucchini and eggplants are also great. I choose fillings that I can prep and store in the fridge for a couple of days.
Leeks sautéed in butter are another lovely addition. As would caramelised onions. I love Ferran Adria’s technique for this. 250g onion (I use ordinary brown onions although French shallots, when you come by them, make all the difference here), julienned; 85g mild olive oil; 100ml water. Fry the onions gently in the oil, stirring continuously for about 20 minutes until golden. Drain off the excess oil and add a little of the water. Cook until the water evaporates. Repeat the process for about 20 more minutes until the onions are the texture of jam and the colour of caramel. Season with salt and transfer to a clean jar. I often keep a stash of this in the fridge too. We often sneak it into our kids’ food (in homemade chicken nuggets and meat balls/patties).
To add hints of umami, I like to dot some pesto in my omelettes as well. If you’re feeling adventurous try my Southeast Asian-style riff here. It doesn’t contain cheese. I use fish sauce to give it a savoury oomph. It’s great in a picked crab omelette served with a saucer of sweet Thai chilli sauce and a hot bowl of rice.
Then there’s ham (or sausage, or roast chicken). My kids are huge fans of Huber’s, so we always have a stash of their ham in the kitchen. But, to me, the cheese is key. Go for whatever you fancy or have on hand. I generally combine mozarella with cheddar, parmesan, or gruyere.
Working out when to place the filling (so that it doesn’t sink into the semi-cooked omelette) and when to fold the omelette over takes some practice. But once you master this, you’ll find many reasons to whip this recipe out.
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites (you can easily add 1 more egg white if you wish)
2 tbs whipping or single cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Butter for frying
Fillings of your choosing
Combine the 2 egg yolks, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl (large enough to fold the egg whites into) and whisk until combined. Be quite generous with your seasoning.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until soft peaks form (I use a stick blender with a whisk attachment). Don’t overwhip or it will be difficult to fold them into the yolk mixture, and challenging to fold your omelette over later.
Gently whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until it is evenly incorporated (resist overworking it). Fold in the remaining eggwhites using a whisk. I find that this does the job faster and leaves the whisked whites reasonably intact.
Melt butter in a 20cm nonstick frying pan (ours is from Ikea) over medium heat (6 on my induction cooktop). Pour in the egg mixture, ensuring that it is spread out evenly, and cook for 2-3 minutes (just so it is firm enough to hold up the filling).
Sprinkle filling over half the omelette. My preference is for semi pan roasted cherry tomato halves, shredded cheddar, a little pesto and diced ham. I sprinkle the cheese in two additions to use it to sort of hold the omelette together as it melts.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes (I usually raise the heat up a notch here). Steam should start escaping from the sides of the omelette and it should come away easily from the sides of the pan. I use two spatulas to help me fold the omelette over. Then I leave it to cook a little longer. When possible, I flip the entire omelette over so that both sides get browned. The omelette base should be golden. Slide omelette onto a plate and serve immediately.
N.B. A chef I once worked with filled his with a chilli crab mixture (super delicious topped with fresh coriander and spring onions and served with steaming hot rice). Ricotta, spring onions and parmigiano reggiano is also lovely. I imagine Boursin and ricotta would also be good with sausage meat.