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Classic French Omelette - How To Make One?


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Although I can do this at home somewhat, I have never had a professionally prepared 3 egg french omelette. The kind that is creamy in the inside, not dry. I don't really need any fillings, just something to compare to make sure I'm getting the texture right.

Not really looking for a neighborhood western omelette place (have enjoyed lots of those already), just a beautiful classic omelette. Many thanks for your suggestions.

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I will definitely check out your suggestions. Thanks for the tips, I really want to find a good one!

One ulterior motive: I've understood omelettes to be the classic "throwdown" subject matter. Eggs and butter are relatively cheap and easily sourced. So it really just comes down to the chef's technical skill and aptitude for sucessful riffs. I was taught that even sushi chefs are ultimately judged by their tamago skills. I want to better my own home game on this. But it seems burgers are the new exhibitions upon which chefs stake their reputations, and I have not seen a French omelette on a menu before. I am truly perplexed, as it seems that many people would pay at least $5 or $6 for a classic 3 egg omelette?

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I've always had good results mimicking Jacques Pepin's omelette videos. He must have recorded a ton of versions over the past 20+ years, but his teaching points always seem to be the same - beating the white vigorously with the fork against the bowl, lots of agitation in the pan so the egg curds in the tiniest increments, and a little momentum to walk the omelette to the edge of the pan. I have a videotape somewhere in which he also demonstrates his "rustic" omelette method.

Here's a recent version found online of his "classic" omelette. The interior texture is demonstrated at the end:

http://www.delish.com/cooking-shows/famous-chefs/pepin-omelet-video

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<snip> beating the white vigorously with the fork against the bowl, lots of agitation in the pan so the egg curds in the tiniest increments, and a little momentum to walk the omelette to the edge of the pan.

This has got me wondering if there are major differences using chopsticks instead of the fork, in terms of time, agitation, aerodynamics, etc...?
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I am a huge Pepin fan and have seen both his classic and rustic techniques on The Complete Pepin video. It is in that sequence where he claims that he would judge a chef by how she makes an omelette, above all other dishes. I have come close to his style of omelette making (Julia's looks like a good one, but completely different). But I can't always close the omelette at the end, and forget about stuffing it -- a complete mess. Mine is generally smooth, but always has several pleats.

I will say that Williams-Sonoma generally has deals on 8 inch non-stick omelette pans right about now: they are bundled with a 10 inch pan and the cost savings are tremendous. I like to use a small rubber spatula instead of a fork so that I don't scratch up the pan.

Still, I'd like to try a professionally done omelette. For awhile, I made the Aviation cocktail at home and thought I was doing ok. Then Justin Guthrie made it for me and it was clear that my recipe was just way off. There's no substitution for the live professional experience.

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Still, I'd like to try a professionally done omelette. For awhile, I made the Aviation cocktail at home and thought I was doing ok. Then Justin Guthrie made it for me and it was clear that my recipe was just way off. There's no substitution for the live professional experience.

Not trying to be snarky, but I think your best bet for this endeavor is to fly to Paris and have breakfast at Le Crillon or Plaza Athénée.

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I am a huge Pepin fan and have seen both his classic and rustic techniques on The Complete Pepin video. It is in that sequence where he claims that he would judge a chef by how she makes an omelette, above all other dishes. I have come close to his style of omelette making (Julia's looks like a good one, but completely different). But I can't always close the omelette at the end, and forget about stuffing it -- a complete mess. Mine is generally smooth, but always has several pleats.

I will say that Williams-Sonoma generally has deals on 8 inch non-stick omelette pans right about now: they are bundled with a 10 inch pan and the cost savings are tremendous. I like to use a small rubber spatula instead of a fork so that I don't scratch up the pan.

Still, I'd like to try a professionally done omelette. For awhile, I made the Aviation cocktail at home and thought I was doing ok. Then Justin Guthrie made it for me and it was clear that my recipe was just way off. There's no substitution for the live professional experience.

I admire your enthusiasm and interest. I've had classic French omelettes many, many times, and only on a few occasions have they been prepared by pro chefs. Most of the time, I've had them prepared at home by some very good cooks--French and Belgian (although I think there is something to be said for being a detail-oriented scientist, economist/engineer who can pull this off! Maybe I've had something similar to the live professional experience you refer to. I honestly haven't paid that much attention to the process, but the end result has been great).

You mentioned stuffing the omelette. In my experience, most of the time, the classic French omelettes I've had haven't had been stuffed; some have had some light fillings (some mushrooms, cheese, spinach, etc.). The omelettes I've had have been incredibly light and I would say less done on the inside compared to the way most American or Western omelettes are cooked.

I guess my point is that if you have a French friend who is a good cook, he/she might be able to give you some pointers. IMHO, you don't hae to be Jacques Pepin to make such an omelette.

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I guess my point is that if you have a French friend who is a good cook, he/she might be able to give you some pointers.

But I'm trying to make a great omelette so that I can MAKE some friends! :( Let me know Lola007 if you give any lessons in charm, I am sadly lacking.

Although I hear what Mark Slater is saying, perhaps along the lines that the french omelette is a national dish with a certain amount of pride involved (much like a burger or chili here in the States), I don't intend to get sentimental, romantic, or snobby about it. Surely Surely Surely there is someone closer than Paris who can transform 3 eggs, salt/pepper, and a tablespoon of butter into a textbook (i.e. not necessarily champion) omelette.

Also, on 2nd thought, $5 or $6 for such a omelette seems a bit low. $14 for one stuffed with, say, 2 ounces of risotto, sounds not outrageous. But the economics must be compellingly adverse for such a breakfast/lunch shop not to be open already. Are crepes really that much more feasible?

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But I'm trying to make a great omelette so that I can MAKE some friends! :( Let me know Lola007 if you give any lessons in charm, I am sadly lacking.

Although I hear what Mark Slater is saying, perhaps along the lines that the french omelette is a national dish with a certain amount of pride involved (much like a burger or chili here in the States), I don't intend to get sentimental, romantic, or snobby about it. Surely Surely Surely there is someone closer than Paris who can transform 3 eggs, salt/pepper, and a tablespoon of butter into a textbook (i.e. not necessarily champion) omelette.

...Are crepes really that much more feasible?

Now I get it. It's very charming that you want to make the perfect classic French omelette. :P I will ask around...I am a champion on the eating side, but probably not the best technician when it comes to cooking something like this. And crêpes are easier, in my opinion.

In the meantime, have you considered cooking classes/lessons? L'academie de Cuisine in Bethesda may have something for you. I see that they're having a class on "hearty fall crêpes" coming up. http://www.lacademie.com/

P.S. Also check out local "Meet-up" groups.

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Gotta admit - I watched the Pepin video today and tried my hand at one tonight.

Total failure!! But made for nice scrambled eggs :(

I'll need to improve all or most of the following:

- my experience

- my technique

- get a non-stick pan that still has the non-stick stuck to it

- get a real spatula

- get a stove with fire coming from the burners, not just a hot element

- get better eggs

- get better butter

- get the real herbs

Someday, someday...

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Gotta admit - I watched the Pepin video today and tried my hand at one tonight.

Total failure!! But made for nice scrambled eggs :(

- get better butter

You may not need better butter, but I can say from 25 years of only somewhat successful omelet-making that it takes a lot more butter than you ever thought possible.
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Gotta admit - I watched the Pepin video today and tried my hand at one tonight.

Total failure!! But made for nice scrambled eggs :(

I'll need to improve all or most of the following:

- my experience

- my technique

- get a non-stick pan that still has the non-stick stuck to it

- get a real spatula

- get a stove with fire coming from the burners, not just a hot element

- get better eggs

- get better butter

- get the real herbs

Someday, someday...

Another item to consider for your list:

-investigate frittatas as an easier-to-execute, righteously delicious alternative

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Gotta admit - I watched the Pepin video today and tried my hand at one tonight.

Total failure!! But made for nice scrambled eggs smile.gif

I'll need to improve all or most of the following:

- my experience

- my technique

- get a non-stick pan that still has the non-stick stuck to it

- get a real spatula

- get a stove with fire coming from the burners, not just a hot element

- get better eggs

- get better butter

- get the real herbs

Someday, someday...

I find that one critical aspect is bringing the eggs up to room temperature before throwing them in the pan. I'll take the eggs out quite early or, if in a rush, warm them in hot tap water. Makes all the difference.

Also: if your non-stick surface has come unstuck, a blast of Pam beneath the butter works well, and allows you to cook in a steel or iron omelett pan (which I think gives a better finish).

Also: Avoid stainless like the plague.

Also: Put the butter in the cold pan and bring it to temperature, rather than adding it to a hot pan.

Also: A tablespoon of water or milk ups the fluff factor.

Also: If forced to cook on an electric stove, heat two elements so that when the first one cools after the eggs are poured in, you can slap the pan on the second coil.

Also: Omelettes got their name when a French king was out slumming for whatever reason, and found himself in a rural auberge eating local fare. Upon being served a superior egg dish he excalimes a propos of the chef "qu'elle homme l'est!" "what a man this is" who could make so brilliant a dish out of such simple ingredients.

Also: Probably not, but it's the best story I've heard.

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Had a very good mushroom omelette today at the Atlas Room, by far most closely resembling the french style than anything else I've tried in the area (admittedly, I haven't exactly made this a full-blown investigation). Soft and creamy and buttery, small curds, stuffed with mushrooms and gruyere.

I see Michel has an omelette in Tyson's, I'll have to make it out there for brunch someday.

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Also: Omelettes got their name when a French king was out slumming for whatever reason, and found himself in a rural auberge eating local fare. Upon being served a superior egg dish he excalimes a propos of the chef "qu'elle homme l'est!" "what a man this is" who could make so brilliant a dish out of such simple ingredients.

Also: Probably not, but it's the best story I've heard.

From the OED, and I hope this constitutes fair use:

Etymology: < Middle French, French omelette (1561; also as †aumelete (1603), †aumelette (1611 in Cotgrave)), alteration (see note) of Middle French, French amelette (1480; now regional), apparently a variant (with metathesis) of an unattested Middle French form *alemette (compare alumette (c1400), alumecte (first half of the 15th cent.)), itself in turn a variant (with suffix substitution) of alemelle, alumelle thin plate, blade of a sword or knife (second half of the 12th cent. in Old French as alemele, alumele; late 14th cent. as alumelle in sense ‘sweet fritter, perh. omelette’), ultimately a variant (with metanalysis of the definite article) of lemelle blade (second half of the 12th cent. in Old French as lemele; French lamelle (early 15th cent. in Middle French)) < classical Latin lamella (see lamella n.).

Note the brilliance of "apparently a variant (with metathesis) of an unattested Middle French form". Etymology doesn't get much more thrilling than that.

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But seriously, I looked around at the menus of all (or most, but I think all) of the French places in the city, and I found omelettes only at Montmartre and Bistro Francais. I've never had one at either, although the eggs Benedict at Bistro Francais are almost always very good, so perhaps they're good with eggs in general. I have to say that things in the kitchen generally come pretty easy to me, but while I can make a halfway decent omelette, it never quite comes together the way I see it come together for really expert cooks like Jacques Pepin. Maybe someday.

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So there I was, sitting in a Waffle House near Fredericksburg, eating a cheese omelette. It wasn't my idea to eat there, but I had no vote in the matter. Since what was on the plate bore no resemblance to a classic French omelette, I thought of this thread . . .and kept my tears to myself. I don't even want to think about those vaunted "hash browns." Inedible.

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So there I was, sitting in a Waffle House near Fredericksburg, eating a cheese omelette. It wasn't my idea to eat there, but I had no vote in the matter. Since what was on the plate bore no resemblance to a classic French omelette, I thought of this thread . . .and kept my tears to myself. I don't even want to think about those vaunted "hash browns." Inedible.

Dude. Waffle House hash browns are the food of the gods.

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Got the 8" and 10" Calphalons today. I'm 2% there.

Update: I pulled it off...in one of those cases of "you know it when you taste it"...I had hit upon the perfect french-style omelette. It was so creamy as to almost defy being called a solid and was really wonderful.

Having been to the mountaintop, honestly, I haven't tried to go back 100%. I incorporate some of the lessons from Pepin, and make generally better eggs as a result. And I researched some of the America's Test Kitchen methods as well. But ultimately, most mornings I wake up and just need eggs. So I cook them and eat them. I've learned not to overcook or underbeat; how to manage the butter and setting; and then I enjoy my scrambled eggs.

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