Demystifying the omelette. Of the literally hundreds of egg preparations we seem to take for granted in commercial cookery, the omelette seems to still be held on some mythical pedestal of fast breaking importance. A wise chef (if you can call any of my kind wise) once told me that when trialling prospective new employees, he would always have them make an omelette with no instruction. So simple a task, it is basically set scrambled eggs, often with fillings, but not always; and yet the distance between a good omelette and a shit one is mere seconds in time, but light years in texture and taste. It also shows how their flavour knowledge stands by their choice of ingredients, attention to detail, and what sort of omelette (folded or open) your personality is. Personally I just think this guy just wanted some poor kid to sweat over making him breakfast. But, you would be amazed how many “chefs” simply couldn’t produce what in my mind should be a breakfast staple, and something that should be part of a larger set of life skills acquired before one sets out into the wide world. Why is basic meal preparation not curriculum? (warning: extensive rant approaching!)
After hundreds of years of shaping young minds, the education system has evolved to a point that we now bestow such knowledge upon mere children that was once the sole property of the elite minds of higher society. The unwilling intellect of a disenchanted generation is now bent forcibly towards wondrous worlds of calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, to name but a few, all before we old enough to drive a car, have sex or vote. However with all of this ‘higher’ learning taking place it feels as though some basic, yet crucial life skills have been drowned in the wake of their more intellectually fashionable peers competing for the same 6 hours of daylight; the school day. It seems to me also that certain subjects which are deemed indispensable, and therefore compulsory are soaking up valuable daylight hours when children could be being taught something that is actually useful in day-to-day life.
For example: during my earlier secondary education we had an entire hour dedicated to what was called “Sustained Silent Reading”. Now, this class was exactly what it sounds like, a room full of bean bags and books, where one was not allowed to speak, finish homework or do anything other than silently read. Of course if you wanted to take a nap during “SSR”, that was fine. So long as you didn’t snore it seemed that sleeping during school hours was deemed perfectly acceptable. I can’t help but feel that this “class” was more for the teachers benefit masquerading as a pathetic attempt to improve our generations less than desirable linguistic abilities. Surely those countless, silent, wasted hours could have been used to teach our young to perform basic, yet crucial life admin such as how to change a tire on a car, how to write up a budget and saving plan for a house hold, or how to conduct ones self during a job interview.
Given the alarming rate of teen pregnancy affecting lower decile secondary schools, where instruction on changing tyres would have most definitely have been more highly valued than literacy, it seems only logical that cooking classes would have been a worthy use of teacher quiet time, or “Sustained Silent Reading”. Why were we not teaching these children who are about to have children how to adequately provide for their brood with fresh healthy food, on the no doubt menial wage your former 1st XV captain boyfriend can draw from his crappy job down at the tire yard. This seems all to often to fall to the parents of such cases, who themselves often appear to have been let down by the system a generation before.
With all that said, the true parents of the latest generation of glassy eyed, self-entitled no hopers is clearly the Internet. In mere moments and relatively free of charge one can self educate on almost any topic of interest. Gone are the days of old dad teaching his son to tie a double Windsor knot in their tie (I learned on Youtube an hour before a wedding, thanks!), or dear old mum teaching her children how to poach and egg (or indeed make an omelette). Broadband is rapidly filling the gaps in career induced neglectful parenting with unfiltered half-truths and strangers opinions.
So here is this stranger’s unfiltered opinion on the humble, yet mighty omelette. I hope this in some small way makes up for the fact that mommy didn’t hug you enough, and Daddy didn’t smack you around enough. I give you fluffy folded egg love in the most abusive format I can convey through the face of the only parental figure you’ll ever know, your screen.
* A little note on fry pans before we dive right in: The true key to any successful omelette adventure is a quality frying pan, non-stick isn’t strictly necessary if you know what’s up, but it will make life a whole lot easier, and your egg escapades a whole lot more consistent.
Like I said, the difference between a great omelette and a pile of shit is timing. This means you need to have everything ready to go before you even look at the fry pan. So cut up all your ingredients into equal-ish sizes and group them into hard, medium and soft piles; that is things that will take a long time to cook, i.e. onions, capsicums, meat, things that need to be cooked for only a few minutes or seconds i.e. garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, and things that just need to be melted or wilted i.e. cheese, spinach, soft herbs. If making 2 omelettes I will even create two sets of 3 piles, this is called portion control and it makes sure that everyone gets the same amount of good stuff and no one ends up whining like a bitch because the other guy got more fucking bacon than them. It also stream lines the cooking process.
Crack 2 large eggs into a bowl and beat the shit out of them. Some people say “don’t over beat the eggs, you want some texture in an omelette” but let me tell you, when it’s cooked it’s going to be the same texture anyway, and the smoother the eggs are, the more evenly your omelette will spread and therefore cook.
Preheat your oven to 200°c. Heat 2 tblsp of oil in your non-stick pan until a light smoke appears. Toss in your hard ingredients (onions) and sauté briskly without colouring. Next goes in your mediums, (mushroom, garlic) and cook until the mushrooms begin to soften. Then in goes your egg mix. Tilt and swirl the pan until you have an even bed of egg on the bottom of the pan and in the gaps between your fillings. Once the egg has just set throw your soft ingredients (spinach and cheese) on top and put the pan in the oven for roughly 2mins, or until the spinach has just begun to wilt, and the egg is still slightly runny.
Now comes the hard part. You could always skip the fold and serve a ‘Spanish omelette’, but then we don’t want to do things half-arsed around here do we?
First, make sure the omelette is not stuck to the pan by giving it a good hard shake, the omelette should move freely in the bottom of the pan. If that fucker is stuck, release it the best you can with some crafty spatula work. Have your plate ready at hand. Grab a spatula in one hand, and the pan handle in the other. Tilt the pan so you have a 45° angle to work with, and use the spatula to flip the edge of the omelette at the top of the incline over on itself, trying to tuck as much filling into the first fold as possible.
Once the first fold is achieved, put down the spatula and grab your plate. Rest the lower edge of the pan on the plate farthest from your grip, and tip the pan so that the omelette slides out of the pan, over itself and onto the plate, thus creating the secondary fold. Season, garnish and serve.