Tips and Techniques for Making the Perfect Omelet

Omelets are great hearty and versatile weeknight meals to keep heat out of your kitchen.Omelets are great hearty and versatile weeknight meals to keep heat out of your kitchen.By David Latt

In the summer I would much rather grill than cook indoors when our friendly kitchen turns into an overheated cavern. But one dish draws me back inside: omelets.

Light and tasty, omelets take only a few minutes to cook, which means a cook can be in and out of the kitchen in a matter of minutes.

RELATED: The perfect fried egg for breakfast.

Make them as simple and mild flavored as you want, using a bit of butter in the pan and a mild cheese for a filling.

Or dive into a complexity of vegetarian and herbal flavors by sautéing spinach and shiitake mushrooms with curry spices, adding a finely grated comté cheese that quickly melts and joins in the custardy fun.

Meat-eaters can find happiness with omelets filled with crispy, sautéed Italian sausage or sweet bits of country-style ham and raw onion added to melted white cheddar cheese.

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Go elegant with an omelet flavored with smoked salmon and crème fraiche, then dusted lightly with cayenne pepper to add a blush of sexy heat. Add a glass of Chardonnay and a tossed arugula salad with ripe heirloom tomatoes, and you'll have the ingredients for a memorable dinner party. Who said omelets are just for breakfast?

RELATED: Don't be afraid of raw eggs.

Use top-quality ingredients: As with all things in life and cooking, starting with the best ingredients yields better results. With omelets that means using farmers market fresh eggs.

Use the right pan: The other essential for well-made omelets is a 10-inch nonstick pan. It's best to use this over a medium to medium-low flame. The nonstick surface creates a good crust without the risk of tearing the delicate omelet.

Keep the omelets small: Large omelets can be made, but not easily. The flip or toss of too many eggs can lead to a messy-looking plate. My recommendation is to make each omelet individually.

The added advantage of individual omelets is each person gets exactly what he or she likes.

Prepare ahead any number of ingredients - sautéed spinach, charred red pepper strips, grilled and sliced shiitake mushrooms, chopped caramelized garlic and onions, cut up honey-baked ham, roasted tomatoes - and offer your guests a check list from which they can choose.

Basic Omelet

If you enjoy a thick omelet, use three eggs. My wife, on the other hand, likes one egg, which creates a crêpe-like omelet in a 10-inch nonstick pan. Personally, a two-egg omelet is the right amount for me.

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 farm fresh large eggs (3 if you like a thick omelet, 1 if you like a thin one)

1 tablespoon whole milk or cream (2 tablespoons if you are using 3 eggs)

½ cup freshly grated semi-soft cheese (comté, white or yellow cheddar)

1 teaspoon sweet butter

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

1. On a medium flame, heat the nonstick pan.

2. Lightly beat the eggs and milk until frothy.

3. Melt the butter in the pan and add the eggs. Season with sea salt and pepper.

4. Sprinkle the grated cheese on one half of the omelet.

5. When the egg has set and the cheese has melted, use a rubber or Silpat spatula to flip the half of the omelet without the cheese on top of the half with the cheese.

6. Serve hot.

Bacon, Spinach, Shiitake Mushroom Omelet

Of course you can eliminate the bacon or, if you enjoy a more dynamic meat ingredient, use ham or Italian sausage.

The filling recipe is measured for one omelet, so if you are going to make more than one with this filling, do a multiple of the ingredients.

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 farm fresh large eggs (3 if you like a thick omelet, 1 if you like a thin one)

1 tablespoon whole milk or cream (2 tablespoons if you are using 3 eggs)

½ cup freshly grated cheese (white or yellow cheddar or comté)

1 slice of bacon, roughly chopped

1 cup spinach leaves, washed, pat dried, roughly chopped

2 shiitake mushrooms, washed, pat dried, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sweet butter

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

1. On a medium flame, heat the 10-inch nonstick skillet.

2. Sauté the bacon crumble until lightly browned, remove and drain on a paper towel, set aside.

3. Wipe clean the skillet with a paper towel.

4. Melt 1 teaspoon sweet butter in the skillet and sauté the spinach and shiitake mushrooms until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and pepper.

5. Add the crispy bacon bits and mix well.

6. Remove the sauté from the pan and reserve.

7. Melt 1 teaspoon sweet butter in the pan.

8. Lightly beat the eggs until frothy and add to the pan.

9. On one half of the omelet, sprinkle the grated cheese and top with the sauté of spinach, mushrooms and bacon.

10. When the eggs are about set and the cheese has melted, use a rubber or silicone spatula to flip the half without the cheese on top of the half with cheese.

11. Serve hot.

Zester Daily contributor David Latt is a television writer/producer with a passion for food. His new book, "10 Delicious Holiday Recipes" is available from Amazon. In addition to writing about food for his own site, Men Who Like to Cook, he has contributed to Mark Bittman's New York Times food blog, Bitten, One for the Table and Traveling Mom. He continues to develop for television but recently has taken his passion for food on the road and is now a contributor to Peter Greenberg's travel site and the New York Daily News online.

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