HYDE PARK, N.Y. - Eggs are a popular food enjoyed by adults and children alike, and are one of the most versatile. They cook quickly, complement nearly any garnish, and make a nutritious meal any time of the day.
Among dishes that make use of eggs' adaptability, the rolled omelet takes center stage. Also known as the French-style omelet, this classic egg dish is a true test of an aspiring chef's skill, requiring perfectly fresh and flavorful ingredients and the right equipment.
Rolled omelets are known for their light yellow color and moist, tender texture. Traditional versions avoid even the slightest tinge of brown, although this can vary with personal taste. To prepare a rolled omelet "by the book," cook it quickly over moderate heat. Fast preparation helps to ensure minimal coloring and a soft consistency; cooking the eggs for too long will make them tough. When done properly, a rolled omelet can be made in about a minute.
Before you start, make sure you have the proper pan. If you happen to have a real omelet pan, here's your chance to use it. Otherwise, something similar - say, an 8-inch nonstick pan with low, sloping sides, preferably about 2 inches deep - is ideal. A well-seasoned saute pan is also perfectly suitable for omelet-making, and nonstick pans help to make the rolling process a bit simpler.
John Reilly, associate professor in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America offers this recipe advice: "Season the raw egg mixture with salt and white pepper. For a beautiful finish, add about 2 tablespoons of cream per egg. Use a fork or whip to beat the eggs in the bowl, but once it is in the pan, use a heat-resistant spatula to gently stir and begin your roll."
This recipe is from The Culinary Institute of America's "Breakfasts and Brunches" cookbook (Lebhar-Freidman, 2005, $35).
12 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk, divided use
1 teaspoon salt, divided use
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup clarified butter or canola oil
To prepare each omelet, whisk 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon of milk together and season with about ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Heat a nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat and heat 1 tablespoon of the butter or oil until almost smoking, tilting the pan to coat the entire surface of the pan.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and scramble it with a heatproof rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Move the pan and utensil at the same time until the egg mixture has coagulated slightly, about 15 to 20 seconds. Smooth out the eggs into an even layer by spreading with a wooden spoon or shaking the pan. Add desired garnish (if using the mushroom, leek and Brie filling, add 1½ tablespoons of the prepared filling down the center of the omelet and top with about 2 teaspoons of Brie.) Let the egg mixture nearly finish cooking without stirring, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Tilt the pan and slide the spatula around the lip of the pan under the omelet to be sure it is not sticking. Slide the omelet to the front of the pan and use a fork or a wooden spoon to fold it inside to the center.
Turn the pan upside down, rolling the omelet onto the plate. The finished omelet should be oval-shaped.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per omelet: 100 cal., 11 g pro., 2 g carbo., 5 g fat, 750 mg sodium, 0 mg chol., 0 g fiber.
Mushroom, Leek and Brie Filling
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
½ cup sliced leeks
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Madeira wine
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ ounces Brie cheese
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute until lightly caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the leeks to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Saute the leeks until they are light golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and reduce until nearly dry, about 1 minute. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Use filling inside omelets and top with Brie as directed in omelet recipe.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per 2.5-ounce serving: 60 cal., 3 g pro., 3 g carbo., 4 g fat, 220 mg sodium, 10 mg chol., less than 1 g fiber.
This recipe and more than 175 others are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America's "Breakfasts and Brunches" cookbook (Lebhar-Freidman, 2005, $35), available at bookstores nationwide or at:
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