Monday, April 29, 2013

Perfect Oven Omelettes

I’ve only recently started to like eggs. That may destroy my credibility in posting an omelette recipe, but hear me out. There are two huge challenges to making eggs great: texture and flavor. Everybody knows about the textural issues. Eggs can be rubber when you want velvet, watery when you want creamy, and astringent when you want melty.

The flavor issue is a little more subtle. When eggs are cooked for too long at higher heats, they release sulfurous compounds with a potent smell and flavor. These compounds are called thiols, and they come from protein breakdown in the white. Some people call this flavor “eggy,” much like the distinctive “fishy” flavor*. But I refuse to accept that “eggy” is an intrinsic property of eggs. “Eggy” isn’t a flavor I enjoy, and so I’ve been grateful to learn that you can make almost all egg preparations without developing this flavor.

The secret to perfect eggs is precise temperature control**. In fact, I would argue that the secret to cooking almost all proteins well is precise temperature control. This is why some of the more popular egg preparations among chefs are cooked in simmering water (poached), a bain-marie (French scrambled eggs), or sous vide (almost anything you can think of). Admittedly, fried eggs are not typically cooked this way, but their brief exposure to heat makes their “eggy” flavor less pronounced than a traditional hard boiled egg.

In this recipe, we control heat transfer by preheating a metal baking sheet in the oven. This allows excellent heat transfer to occur without expensive equipment. We adapted this recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home. They use a small frying pan, extra egg yolks, heavy cream, gourmet fillings, and a lot of repetition. That’s great, but we wanted to see what would happen if we tried the same thing with a huge pan, milk, and classic omelette toppings. We think it turns out really well! Plus, what’s cooler than cooking a six-egg omelette all at once? It sure beats trying to toss two-or-three smaller omelettes on the stove.

*I like “fishy” flavor, and I really like “fish saucy” flavor. So don’t put those flavors in the same category as “eggy” by saying you have to have the “eggy” flavor to enjoy eggs. We’re all different though, so if you really love “eggy”, I highly recommend that you try using Indian black salt. It’s a sulfurous salt that smells just like a dozen overboiled eggs. Some say it’s an acquired taste. I think that it’s a direct assault on happiness. Incidentally, it’s an ingredient I am purposefully leaving out of a Chana Masala variant I’m working on right now.

**Nerdy note. This should actually be heat transfer control. In an oven, heat transfer is relatively slow, while in a water bath, it is much more rapid. Having precision temperature in an oven, therefore, is much less important than in a water bath. With that said, I still would love to have a combi-oven in my kitchen one day.  

Special Equipment
Nothing! (but a blender won’t hurt)

Full Ingredient List
6 eggs
30 g/2 Tbsp milk
2 g/0.25 tsp salt
Cooking spray
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Crispy bacon (optional)
Green peppers (optional)
Green onions (optional)

Instructions
Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the hot oven for at least 15 minutes.

Step 2: Make the omelette

6 eggs
30 g/2 Tbsp milk
2 g/0.25 tsp salt
Cooking spray

Grease a 9” by 13” casserole dish with the cooking spray. Blend together the eggs and milk (We like to use a blender, but a whisk works in a pinch.) Pour the eggs into the casserole dish. Place the casserole dish in the oven and immediately cover it with the baking sheet. Cook until the eggs are just set, 8-10 minutes.

Step 3: Top the omelette
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Crispy bacon (optional)
Green peppers (optional)
Green onions (optional)

Immediately top the omelette. Start with ingredients that need to melt (such as cheese, and then add on the other ingredients. Serve hot.

3 comments:

  1. I think I'll actually be able to handle this recipe! Haha...but really...only a handful of ingredients and no special tools! Thanks!

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