On many Sundays, my wife and I luxuriate over a three-egg omelet with grilled Texas Toast or English muffins and her homemade marmalade for breakfast. I have done a lot of experimenting over the years and at last I have made a breakthrough. This method makes absolutely the most wonderful creamy custardy decadent omelet (or scrambled eggs, if you prefer). Absolutely the effen best ever. And it is fast and easy.
This recipe is for a simple, pure, French omelet. No cheese, no peppers, no ham. The beauty of this is its sumptuous egginess unadorned, although I must confess I like adding a small shallot to the melting fat. There are several tricks that are vital, so please try this my way the first time with the ratios exactly as below to set your mental and taste standards. Then if you want to riff on it, go ahead. It calls for whole cream. I have tried it with half-and-half and milk, and they are very good, but you can tell the diff. It calls for butter. It is also good with bacon fat and duck fat.
Eggs are about 75% water, 12% fat (mostly in the yolks), and 12% protein
Cream is about 73% water, 20% fat, 4% carbs, and 3% protein
Butter is about 17% water, 80% fat, and a small amount of protein
Cornstarch is an emulsifier, almost all carbohydrates, it binds things together
Protein molecules in eggs change their shape, or denature, as they are heated, and form a matrix that traps moisture. Salt aids the process. As with other proteins, the longer or hotter you cook them, the proteins shrink and squeeze out moisture. So it is crucial to keep the heat down and take the eggs off when slightly runny. They will finish cooking by carryover.
As it is heated, the molecular chains in cornstarch unravel and form a mesh with other starch chains, a process called starch gelatinization. It forms a custard-like gel trapping the water, fat, and protein in the eggs, cream, and butter. My friend Grant Crilly at ChefSteps, a far more accomplished baker than I, added that “as the cornstarch gels, it binds the water that is squeezed out of the cooking egg protein, really capturing moisture and adding some elasticity.” Lots of recipes take advantage of this by mixing egg and corn starch: cookies, lemon bars, brownies, pudding, and crepes. The AmazingRibs.com science advisor, Prof. Greg Blonder, said “Essentially it forms an internal sauce.”
Here’s a short video of the process with special thanks to the late great pianist Don Shirley for his 1950s version of “At Last” written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren in 1941. If you saw the movie Green Book, that was Shirley in the back seat.
Want to create the most wonderful creamy custardy decadent omelet? It doesn't get any better than this recipe! It even works well for scrambled eggs.
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: French, Modernist
Prep Time: 5minutes
Cook Time: 5minutes
I make this in a non-stick 8 inch ceramic coated pan. This is the exact model I bought: 8 inch GreenPan Valencia Pro. I also bought their 12 inch. It is totally awesome. This new breed of coating is very different from the set of enameled and non-stick pans we got when we were married years ago. They don't scorch and they have none of the drawbacks of Teflon which can produce hazardous compounds if it gets too hot. The eggs are easy to flip and they slide out like an Olympic skier. I strongly recommend you get one if you make a lot of omelets.
Optional. You can use bacon fat or duck fat if you wish. I love to add a teaspoon of thyme, tarragon, or chives (fresh or dried) before cooking, a minced shallot to the melted fat, and after, several grinds of coarse black pepper.
Whisk #1. Have all of the ingredients out and at the ready. Whisk together the cornstarch and cream in a medium sized bowl until there are no lumps.
Whisk #2. Crack and add the eggs to the cornstarch mix, sprinkle in the salt, and whisk vigorously until it is foamy. You want some bubbles in there. Add the herbs now.
Butter up. Melt the butter over medium heat in an 8 inch nonstick pan. I am extremely fond of my ceramic coated pan which is a s slick as a hockey rink. Resist the temptation to go hot unless you like rubbery eggs. Do not brown the butter.
Cook side one. As soon as the butter is melted, give the eggs a final whisk and pour them into the pan. With the whisk, move the liquid around. The eggs will start solidifying on the bottom and sides. Push the lumps around and tilt the pan so liquid can flow onto the bare surface. You will think that you are making scrambled eggs. Don’t worry, you are making an omelet. Keep this up until there is very little runny liquid on top but don’t let the bottom brown.
Flip out. If you like runny eggs, proceed to the next step. For a little firmer omelet, now it is time to flip it over and cook the runny egg remaining on the top. There are two methods. The pro technique is to make sure the eggs are sliding around in the pan and then, with a flick of the wrist, send it up the sloped side of the pan, into the air where it will do a half gainer. Watch out for any low hanging cabinets. If you lack the confidence to do the flick, there is an easier way: Slide the eggs out of the pan onto a plate, and then slide them back into the pan tilting the plate so the wet side lands facing the warm metal.
Fold and serve. Let the wet side set for about 20 seconds and then slide it out onto a plate, folding it in half as it slides out. I like a few grinds of fresh black pepper, grilled Texas Toast or English muffins, and of course, coffee. My wife puts homemade marmalade on her toast.
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.
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