Denver Omelet

Published February 1, 2005.

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Why this recipe works:

A substantial Denver omelet has become a breakfast feature in American restaurants and diners. Filled with ham and lots of vegetables in addition to cheese, it’s a meal in itself. But it’s hard to get the vegetables cooked without overcooking the eggs. Cooking the filling separately, before… read more

A substantial Denver omelet has become a breakfast feature in American restaurants and diners. Filled with ham and lots of vegetables in addition to cheese, it’s a meal in itself. But it’s hard to get the vegetables cooked without overcooking the eggs. Cooking the filling separately, before the eggs, seemed to be the best way to avoid undercooked vegetables. In addition to the standard onion and green bell pepper, we also included red bell pepper, which made for a more colorful filling. Instead of julienning the vegetables, we finely chopped them; this made our filling easier to eat, and the peppers’ skin was less intrusive. Ham steak was the easiest kind of ham to dice: it also imparted a welcome smoky flavor to the rest of the filling. For more complexity of flavor, we included garlic and parsley, which are unusual in a Denver omelet, and a dash of hot sauce livened things up without adding too much spiciness. We cooked the eggs according to our tried-and-true method, with some dairy (we used a little heavy cream, but milk worked as well) to keep the eggs from drying out, and added the warm filling just before folding the omelet onto a plate. Both components—eggs and filling—were perfectly cooked.

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Serves 1

Prepare the filling and then begin making the omelet. A ham steak is our top choice for the filling, although canned ham and sliced deli ham will work. (If using sliced deli ham, add it with the garlic, parsley, and hot sauce.) If you can find them, Cook’s brand ham steaks are our favorite. The filling recipe makes enough for two omelets and can be doubled. You can make one omelet after another in the same pan, although you may need to reduce the heat. For the best results, serve all omelets, including this one, on warmed plates.

Ingredients

  • Filling
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 ounces ham steak, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Omelet
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cream or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Instructions

  1. 1. FOR THE FILLING: Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the peppers, onions, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the ham and cook until the peppers begin to brown lightly, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and hot sauce and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and cover to keep warm.

    2. FOR THE OMELET: Beat the eggs, cream or milk, and salt and pepper to taste with a fork in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

    3. Heat the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides and the butter just begins to turn color, pour in the eggs. Cook until the edges begin to set, about 2 to 3 seconds, then, with a rubber spatula, stir in a circular motion until slightly thickened, about 10 seconds. Use the spatula to pull the cooked edges in to the center, then tilt the pan to one side so that the uncooked egg runs to the edge of the pan. Repeat until the omelet is just set but still moist on the surface, 1 to 2 minutes.

    4. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across the surface of the omelet and allow to partially melt, 15 to 20 seconds. With the handle of the pan facing you, spoon the filling over the left side of the omelet. Slide the omelet onto a warmed plate, filled-side first, and, with a slight twist of the wrist, invert the pan so that the other side of the omelet folds over the filling. Serve immediately.

Step-by-Step

Chopping Peppers

1. Slice a 3/4-inch section off both the tip and stem ends of the peppers. Make one slit in the trimmed shells, place skin-side down, and open the flesh.

2. Scrape off seeds and membranes. Cut flesh into 1/4-inch strips. Turn the strips 90 degrees, so they are parallel with the work surface edge, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

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