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Make Omelets Like a Pro

By Lan Lam Published

Rolling sunny, tender eggs around a tidy filling doesn’t require much more skill or time than a hearty scramble—but the result is much more polished and satisfying.

For a year and a half during my early 30s, I worked the brunch shift at Craigie on Main, a French-inspired restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My charge was the egg station, where I turned out the kitchen’s variant of a classic French omelet featuring tender, butter-yellow curds cushioned around substantial fillings such as mushrooms, crabmeat, and asparagus. Early on, it was a trial-by-fire gig: As I acquainted myself with the stove’s heat zones, I would shuffle the skillets—three to five at a time—around the broad steel cooktop, trying to pinpoint just the right spot to preheat the pan, and also gauge how to quickly compensate if I added the eggs when the skillet was too hot or too cold. At the same time, I was learning when to stop cooking the eggs before smoothing them into an even layer; how much filling to add so that the omelet would be plump but not bloated; and how thoroughly to precook any watery ingredients, lest they ooze juices and mar the presentation. More than anything, I sweated “the dismount”—that final step of rolling the eggs around the filling and out of the skillet in a single motion so that the omelet landed seam side down in a tidy log. Doing it well requires at least as much faith as it does skill, and if I inverted it with trepidation, the whole package would fall apart on the way down and I’d have to start over.

But I got better fast, because making a great omelet is actually easy to do. The learning curve is really just practicing the motions so that you can operate on muscle memory and recognize the visual cues. Once you can do that, the process—which takes all of 4 minutes—becomes smooth and fun, and the burst of satisfaction you feel when that tight, uniformly golden cylinder hits the plate never gets old, whether you’re running through it for the first time or the thousandth. To this day, I can’t think of another dish that’s as quick, meditative, and gratifying. Read on for a breakdown of my method, and then grab a skillet and give it a whirl.

The Tools

Set yourself up for success by having everything—the equipment, eggs, and filling—ready to go.

  • 8-Inch Nonstick Skillet:

    A three-egg omelet made in this pan will be delicate but thick enough to support the filling. Make sure that the surface is slick; if the coating is scratched or worn, sliding the omelet out of the pan will be difficult.

     

    Tight-Fitting Lid:

    Briefly covering the pan traps heat that helps the omelet set, making it easier to maneuver, and keeps the filling warm.

     

     

     

     

    Heatproof Rubber or Silicone Spatula:

    Any size or shape will work. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Serving Plate:

    This is your landing pad for the omelet when you roll it out of the pan.


The Method

The cooking goes very quickly and requires your full attention, so read through these steps before you start to ensure that you understand the process. Don’t be discouraged if your first few omelets aren’t perfect; you will get better with practice.

Cook Eggs

Stir constantly so that the texture of the finished omelet is fine and uniform. Stop cooking once a small amount (about 10 percent) of liquid egg remains; smooth this “glue” over the curds so that the whole thing holds together in a cohesive round. 

Cook, stirring constantly and scraping bits of egg from sides of skillet into middle.
Remove from heat; scrape eggs from sides and smooth into even layer.

Add Cheese

Shape the warmed cheese filling (microwaved first to jump-start melting) into a 2-inch-wide strip and center it in the omelet perpendicular to the handle; this will allow you to easily roll the egg around the filling and out of the skillet.

Place cheese filling in center of eggs perpendicular to handle.
Cover for 1 minute.

Loosen and Fold

The omelet should be set enough to easily slide the spatula underneath and scooch it to far side of the skillet.

Loosen omelet and slide to rim opposite handle.
Fold eggs partway over filling.

Change Grip and Tilt

Move with purpose so that the momentum of falling from the skillet helps shape the log. Tilting too slowly may cause the cheese to fall ahead of the eggs.

Grasp handle with nondominant hand; hold skillet over plate at 45-degree angle.
Slowly tilt skillet toward yourself while using spatula to roll omelet onto plate.

Recipe Omelet with Cheddar and Chives

Rolling sunny, tender eggs around a tidy filling doesn’t require much more skill or time than a hearty scramble—but the result is much more polished and satisfying.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.