The Incredible Edible High Maintenance Omelet or How I Learned to Love the Puff

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A light omelet to close out a busy spring weekend sounded like the ideal Sunday night supper. I’ve made lots of omelets in my time and relished the small, cheesy productions I routinely whipped up for my daughter while she still lived at home (ah, those were the days). Surely, a larger, puffier version with six fresh eggs would present no serious challenge.  That’s what I was thinking a half hour before I started feeling like one of those stressed and sweating Iron Chef contestants.

The Puffy Omelet I chose from a 1948 Metropolitan Life Insurance Cookbook had only five ingredients and just the right amount of extra fussing. The eggs needed to be separated and then I had to beat the whites until stiff. No problem. My strategy was to get a head start with the frying pan, necessary for browning the omelet before I transferred it to the oven to bake. I needed to melt “2 tablespoons of fat”  in the frying pan, and let’s recognize how unattractive  that word can be for a cook on Weight Watchers.

It’s so………graphic. FAT. Add it. Melt it now. Add FAT to that pan. Eat it and imagine it clinging to the sides of your arteries. Oh, the horror.

So  I did what any girl would do in the midst of this distasteful lipid imagery. I reached for the butter. With my head down and my stomach grumbling, I dropped a small block of it into the pan over low heat to melt while I dealt with the whites:

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  That lovely peak didn’t get there without lots of work. In fact, six egg whites take longer to beat than I first imagined. Yes, they quickly turn to foam and then increase in size and then a few minutes later they are lovely soft peaks. But I needed strong, upright whites. Manly whites. So I kept going, imagining the 1948 cook with her old-school rotary egg beater, a combination of gears and stiff beaters that could have been classified as gym equipment. Turning, turning and turning while the twin beaters beneath bumped and grinded and twirled. What a pain that gizmo was. My hand almost cramped just thinking about that bulky kitchen accessory in my mom’s kitchen drawer that somehow always got entangled with all the the other gadgets.  I rejoiced for the electric version I had and cranked up the speed. More power. More stiffness. More oomph.

   And then I smelled it. My butter had burned and smoke was filling the kitchen. After clean up and a burst of colorful language I was ready again. Time for another round of FAT. For some reason, I switched to olive oil. The word was haunting me.

   Finally, the whites were whipped and folded into the yolks and browned gently on top of the stove. In the FAT. AFter a few minutes I swept it into the oven for 15 minutes alongside a pan of roasting asparagus.  The finished product made me absolutely gleeful. Michaelangelo could not have felt happier about his ceiling painting at the Vatican than I did at that moment.  It slid out from the pan easily(the FAT, no doubt, made that happen) and landed on my good china platter with nary a break or tear.

  And then I got really scared.  The recipe ordered: “Fold one half over the other and serve immediately.” This lovely, golden, airy creation was like a small pillow. Pillows don’t fold. I doubted how this would all end, but then I took a deep breath of burned butter and just did it:

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    So yea, I was a little forceful. Had to press down one high-volume half into the other, but how good does this look, folks? This fantastically puffy omelet fed two hungry adults. I loved it. My husband, who had seconds, found it a bit bland. There was a slight, ever so salty-tasting crust on top. It tasted how it looked–golden and puffy. And despite all the air inside that thing, it satisfied me. This was a good Old Food lab. Burning that butter was a valuable learning piece and next time, I’ll be more vigilant with the FAT. Butter is just too darned good to go up in smoke.

   In case you’d like to impress with a little egg cookery, here’s the recipe. Next time I’ll sprinkle some grated cheese on top before transferring it into the oven.


6 eggs

3 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons FAT (eeeuuw)

  Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with water, salt and pepper until foamy. Fold into the mixture the stiffly beaten whites (manly whites, not wimpy whites). Melt the FAT in a heavy frying pan. Add the eggs and cook at low temperature until the omelet is slightly brown underneath(sneak a peek after two or three minutes). Put the pan in a moderate oven (350 degrees) and bake for about 15 minutes until the omelet is firm. Fold one half over the other (be brave and just do it!) and serve immediately.

5 thoughts on “The Incredible Edible High Maintenance Omelet or How I Learned to Love the Puff

  1. Love the photos, especially the hens. I remember untangling utensils from those beaters, it was the best reason for getting rid of the damn thing! Let’s hear it for the manly whites!

  2. I always thought an omelet had something inside? I love the puffiness, but where are the veggies, the cheese, the ham or sausage? After this question, you know I could really relate to the “FAT” element of this story.

    • I consulted my Food Lover’s Companion for clarification:
      omelet;omelette A mixture of eggs, seasoning and sometimes water or milk, cooked in butter until firm and filled or topped with various fillings such as cheese, ham, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sausage and herbs. So maybe you have something there. I always considered the toppings or fillings optional.
      Plain was fine but would have been elevated by cheese or other toppings, which you’d need to add before you slipped it into the oven. For only six points, P, this was a winner.

  3. Linda,

    This is a great Blog! I love how you write about the FAT and the old fashioned egg beater! I had to use one of those for many years growing up until my mom finally got an electric beater. As you write, I can easily visualize you in the kitchen with the FAT burning in the pan!

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