I have been on an egg kick lately. Partially because they are an old-fashioned food and also because we have been getting some good eggs. We had omelets last week from eggs a neighbor gave us (OK, the chickens are not in the neighborhood, but he has some land someplace nearby), and generally get eggs from Sri at the farmers market. These are eggs from chickens that are really outside, free to wander and eat bugs, which results in orange yolks. Call me weird, but what I like the most is the eggs are all different sizes, from tiny to jumbo. And the ones from Sri are all different colors – brown, green, blue, and occasionally white.
I actually was ambitious enough a couple of weeks ago to make soufflés, which was fun but a bit of work, and one of these days I will try some chocolate soufflés. I also poached an egg (just like Jacques Pepin, with just boiling water, no forms) and put on top of a spinach salad. But most of the eggs get used in omelets.
Omelets are more technique and imagination than recipe, so just try to follow along: Start with 2 or 3 eggs, depending on how hungry you are (or who ever is eating) and how big the eggs are. I use whole eggs. Yes, by eliminating the yolks you get less fat (5 grams / 2 of which are saturated per yolk) and no cholesterol, but I think you loose a lot of flavor, not to mention 1/3 of the protein and other nutrients. Recent data is showing that eggs are not as bad as they have been made out to be, and cholesterol that you eat has little to do with the cholesterol in your blood (but there is still conflicting information, especially for diabetics) . So don’t eat a 3-egg omelet every day. While I’m on the nutrition rant (I’ll get to the recipe soon enough), compare the fat in eggs to Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing at McDonald’s where 1 serving has 30 grams of fat, 5 saturated.
Back to making omelets. I like to have some vegetables in my omelets, like spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, or bell pepper.. and maybe a bit of onion. If there is meat around, like leftover chicken or ham (prosciutto is great, but cut-up lunch meat works too) it can go in. Plus cheese: Favorites include goat cheese, Parmesan, Manchego, Cheddar, somewhere between ½ to 1 ounce. Herbs are an option too… think chives, tarragon, thyme.
To start, get out a good non-stick skillet, about 10 inches. Start by cooking the vegetable(s). For asparagus or broccoli, put about a ¼ inch of water in the pan, and boil for a few minutes over high heat until they are done. Put the vegetables on a small plate and set to the side), drain the pan. For spinach, peppers or mushrooms, sauté a little chopped onion in a bit of olive oil, (ham can be added here too if you like), add the vegetable, and cook until its done. Set aside and wipe out the pan if needed.
To make the omelet: beat the eggs in a small bowl. Melt a bit of butter in the pan (1 teaspoon or so, maybe less) over medium heat. Add the eggs. The goal is to cook them slowly. When they are partially set, sprinkle with herbs (optional), cheese, vegetable, meats. I like to add salt and pepper at this point. When the eggs are done (they will still be very soft on top, and you probably have a bit of liquid from the vegetables and cheese) .. and they should not be very brown on the bottom, fold in half, and slide to a plate. If you are being fancy, put a few more herbs on top.
Some of my favorite combinations:
Goat cheese, spinach and onion
Aparagus and manchego, with chives
Ham, bell pepper, and onion (aka Western Omelet)
Chile and cheddar with Chicken
So use your imagination… and what happens to be in the fridge!
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