How to Cook a Spanish Omelet

An omelet is a simple dish, just whipped eggs filled with cheese or vegetables or fruit and rolled over itself to form a tidy packet of hot delicious flavors. Producing an omelet, however, is slightly more complicated than describing it.  Because an omelet is a nearly instantaneous food requiring only about 30 to 50 seconds cooking, having all the ingredients for the dish at hand is essential, and experienced cooks admit that a helping hand is welcome. Before launching preparation of omelets, heated plates should be ready as well as accompanying foods such as breads, meats, or condiments.

Cooking omelets requires a pan in which eggs will not stick. This may be a cast iron or aluminum or other metal frying pan, but an ideal omelet pan will have curved sides and not the straight sides of an ordinary skillet. The single omelet is best cooked in a pan about seven inches in diameter. This is not to say that an omelet cannot be prepared in a skillet; it will simply not be as orthodox or as simple as in a proper omelet pan.

The only truly acceptable fat to use in an omelet pan is sweet butter, clarified if possible, about one or two tablespoons for each three egg omelet. The butter is heated in the empty pan for each omelet, so extra butter must be available as one omelet is finished and before the next is begun. The pan must be placed over medium heat so that the butter heats to the point of fragrance but does not brown. Roll the butter around in the pan so that it coats the sides as well as the bottom before adding the eggs

Spanish filling for an omelet is as simple as a jar of good salsa or as complicated as a cooked mixture containing chopped onions, garlic, red and green sweet peppers, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, chorizos and more if desired. The filling must be liquid enough to measure with a ladle or tablespoon but thick enough to hold its shape when the omelet is folded. The omelet filling must be at least as warm as room temperature or warmer and should be placed adjacent to the pan where it can be measured and placed on the eggs quickly.

Eggs for omelets must be at room temperature before cooking. Break two or three eggs in a small bowl, mix briefly with a fork and pour the eggs into the melted butter in the pan. The idea is that the pan must be hot enough to create a seal on the bottom of the eggs but not so hot as to scorch or toughen them.  Holding the pan’s handle in your right hand, agitate the pan forward and backward while maintaining contact with the heat. Do not allow the eggs to stay long in one position; they should continue to slide forward and back easily until the top layer is as set as you want it to be. Place a spoonful of filling on the third of the egg mixture that is furthest away from the handle. Be sure that it is opposite the handle.

Tip the pan away from you until the egg nearest the handle begins to fold over itself away from you. Use a fork to nudge the egg forward if necessary. Place the warmed plate in front of you and tip the pan sharply forward, almost horizontal to the plate, until the omelet folds onto the plate. Top the omelet with cheese, a spoonful of filling, or with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or chives. A fresh omelet should be served immediately but can be held in a warm oven for a few minutes, perhaps long enough to make two or three more omelets.



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