2000s Recipes + Menus

Perfection as an Omelet

March 2008

Break three large, super-fresh, room-temperature eggs into a bowl and beat them lovingly with a little salt and pepper until they are perfectly combined, but be careful not to froth them. Stir in a teaspoon of butter that you’ve cut into tiny dice, making sure it’s evenly distributed. If the butter can’t be from Brittany, make sure it’s at least chilled, okay?

Now take your eight-inch black steel pan that has been well seasoned for 20 years, and that you reserve exclusively for eggs. Heat one tablespoon of clarified butter over a medium-high flame. Get the pan hot enough so that the eggs will start cooking right when you pour them in, but not so hot that they bubble violently and start frying.

Use the back of two forks to stir the eggs in silver-dollar-size circular motions at slow speed (120 revolutions per minute), revolving them around the pan. When the eggs have become a thickened liquid containing small curds, gently shake the pan and increase speed to medium (140 rpm). When they’re all wet curds, shake more vigorously and speed up to fast (160 rpm).

While the eggs are all cooked but still tender and slippery curds, let the pan sit untouched on the heat and count to seven to form the skin. Lift the pan and, with your free hand, give the handle a couple of good whacks to shake the omelet loose and get it to slide up the top edge. Set the pan down and change your grip so that your palm faces up and the handle is perpendicular to your wrist. 

Roll the omelet onto a warmed plate by flipping the pan handle-first so that your palm faces down again. Don’t be afraid—you just have to commit to it and go. If it doesn’t come out, it wasn’t meant to be.

Now examine your omelet: the tight cigar shape, the rich yellow color, the smoothness, the thinness of the skin. Curse yourself for all the ways it’s not perfect, insist that this is a personal failing, and start over.

francis lam,
Subscribe to Gourmet