I have to admit that I’m one of those people who holds onto cookware way too long. After pots are scratched, warped, and showing their age by letting even the simplest foods adhere to their surface, I continue to use them. Replacing cookware, especially a high-quality set, is expensive. So I’ve been excited to set out on a quest for the perfect cookware.
Eggs in many forms are ideal test recipes. They can be delicate yet prone to burning or sticking. They cook quickly, so they’re speedy, easy meals. This time of year, the chickens are laying prolifically. Most egg dishes don’t require a recipe, and many styles can be created just by cracking a fresh egg into a hot pan. But some call for a bit of technique, including endless variations on omelets.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 main ingredients plus your choice of filling.
1. Cook the beaten eggs.
2. Add the filling.
3. Fold and enjoy.
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon butter
sea salt to taste
about 1/2 cup filling, such as grated cheese and chopped vegetables
1–3 teaspoons minced fresh herbs (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and water until just blended. In an 8- to 10-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it is sizzles a drop of water. Briefly whisk salt into the eggs, and then pour them into the pan. Wait a few seconds for the edges to set, and then use a silicone spatula to pull the cooked portions toward the center, tilting the pan as necessary to fill the open spaces with uncooked egg. Continue cooking for 2–4 minutes, until the egg is set and will not flow.
Top half of the omelet with your chosen filling and any herbs, setting aside a tablespoon or so for garnish if desired; sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. With a spatula, fold the plain half of the omelet over the filling. Let the omelet cook an additional 1–2 minutes as needed, until any cheese softens and the eggs just begin to darken. Tilt the pan 45 degrees and slide the omelet onto a plate, cutting it in half to divide between 2 plates and garnishing if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 1–2.
Tips & Tricks
- I add a little water to omelets and scrambled eggs for the fluffiest texture. You can use milk for creamier, firmer eggs.
- Beating the eggs until they are well combined but not fully frothy gives me a light, tender omelet. Salting the eggs just before they hit the pan also makes them tender and keeps them from becoming watery as they cook.
- Filling choices vary widely, from leftover cooked vegetables to fresh ones to shellfish and endless types of cheese, including homemade and home-smoked. By keeping the additions to about 1/2 cup for a 3-egg omelet (see other sizes below), you can avoid overfilling and breaking apart the omelet.
- Herbs, scallions, and spinach can be added fresh to omelets; herbs can even be whisked into the raw eggs. Juicy ingredients, like tomatoes, are best chopped and drained. Asparagus, mushrooms, bell pepper, and other dense vegetables have a better final texture when precooked. If using the same pan to sauté the filling, wipe it clean with a paper towel before you add the butter for the egg.
Twice as Tasty
To put it simply: Testing cookware by cooking eggs is such fun I’m not limiting myself to omelets. Here are a few of the other cooked eggs on my test list:
- Over-easy eggs. With a nonstick skillet in his hand, George was thrilled to learn he hadn’t lost his skill of flipping an over-easy egg with a flick of his wrist. A nonstick surface makes all the difference; no matter how much butter coated the egg, the white always clung to our old pans and required loosening with a spatula.
- Basted eggs. My favorite eggs are steam basted with minimal or no butter. Once the eggs are in the pan and the whites start to firm up, I add a splash of water and immediately cover the skillet with a lid. The problem with old pans was that I still needed to add a large amount of butter to avoid having to scrape out the eggs. With new nonstick pans, the finished eggs glide right out.
- Omelet variations. I’m trying omelets of all sizes in different pans. Three eggs) is ideal for 8- to 10-inch pans and 1 to 2 people, depending on fillings and sides like Zucchini Sesame Bread and Braised Breakfast Potatoes. A 6- to 8-inch pan can hold a two-egg version for a solo breakfast. For a hearty meal for 2 people or a larger breakfast crew, bump up to a 10- to 12-inch pan and up to six eggs.
Scratch-Made Sriracha, Quick Tomatillo Salsa, and Chermoula are just a few of the sauces I love for garnishing omelets and other cooked eggs. You’ll find these and many more delicious recipes in my new book, The Complete Guide to Pickling. At the same time, pick up the The Pickled Picnic to learn how to use pickles and leftover brine in a range of recipes. Click here to order.