Fluffy Omelet

From Cook's Illustrated | March/April 2013

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Why this recipe works:

We love the impressive height and delicate texture of fluffy omelets. To make sure that the eggs are cooked through but moist and tender, we fold butter-enriched yolks into stiffly whipped whites. We fill our omelets with light but boldly flavored fillings that are sure to satisfy.

We love the impressive height and delicate texture of fluffy omelets. To make sure that the eggs are cooked through but moist and tender, we fold butter-enriched yolks into stiffly whipped whites. We fill our omelets with light but boldly flavored fillings that are sure to satisfy.

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Fluffy Omelet

It’s like a soufflé in a skillet—or would be if we could figure out how to keep it from collapsing before it got to the plate.

Watch the Video

Serves 2

A teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice can be used in place of the cream of tartar, and a hand-held mixer or a whisk can be used in place of a stand mixer. We recommend using the fillings that accompany this recipe; they are designed not to interfere with the cooking of the omelet.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 recipe filling (see related content)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg yolks, melted butter, and salt together in bowl. Place egg whites in bowl of stand mixer and sprinkle cream of tartar over surface. Fit stand mixer with whisk and whip egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy, 2 to 2½ minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks just start to form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites until no white streaks remain.

    2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. When butter foams, quickly add egg mixture, spreading into even layer with spatula. Remove pan from heat and gently sprinkle filling and Parmesan evenly over top of omelet. Transfer to oven and cook until center of omelet springs back when lightly pressed, 4½ minutes for slightly wet omelet and 5 minutes for dry omelet.

    3. Run spatula around edges of omelet to loosen, shaking gently to release. Slide omelet onto cutting board and let stand for 30 seconds. Using spatula, fold omelet in half. Cut omelet in half crosswise and serve immediately.

Step-by-Step

Going their Separate Ways

To create an omelet that was fluffy but didn’t taste like Styrofoam, we first needed to separate the whites from the yolks and treat them as separate entities. This is because each component contributes a different—and competing—quality to the results: Whites build structure, while the rich-tasting fat in yolks weakens it. Next steps: We whipped the whites with cream of tartar to add stability and stirred a little melted butter into the yolks to enhance their rich taste. We then gently recombined the two components. The extra fat kept the omelet from tasting too lean, while the cream of tartar allowed the omelet to stand tall and sturdy, despite the weakening effects of butter and yolks.

SEPARATE WHITES AND YOLKS: Since these two components perform competing functions, they must be treated separately.

MIX YOLKS WITH BUTTER: Butter (melted first, to make mixing easy) tenderizes the omelet and supplements the yolks’ rich flavor.

WHIP WHITES WITH CREAM OF TARTAR: Cream of tartar stabilizes the whipped egg whites so the omelet stands tall.

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