What not to do with eggs

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Our new flock of chickens is laying on all cylinders, and we’re collecting up to ten eggs a day. I’m giving a lot of them to friends, but I don’t have all that many friends, so I still have quite a few left. There’s nothing for it but to eat them.

Which raises a very important question: What on earth is the point of an omelet?

Not for omelets, please.

I certainly see the point of mixing eggs with things like cheese and onions, mushrooms and ham. But it makes so much more sense to simply scramble all those things together.

It starts with the pan issue. If you’re making an omelet, you either have to use two pans, or use one pan serially, first to sauté the filling and then to cook the omelet. A scramble uses one pan, once. Cook your onions, add your sausage, finish with spinach, then mix in the eggs and cheese. No getting bowls dirty with fillings, no worrying about little bits in the pan that will interfere with the omelet-making.

But that advantage pales in comparison to the other, more substantive advantages. It’s not easy to make an omelet so the eggs are cooked properly all the way through. Generally, you end up with a tough skin on the outside and an undercooked layer on the inside. But, even if you get it perfect, the eating experience is suboptimal. You get bites of all egg and no filling around the outside, and bites with too much filling and not enough egg on the inside.

And then there’s the texture of the egg. Eggs are best when they’re cooked in soft, creamy curds, not firm, spongy pancakes. The egg in omelets is the equivalent of well-done meat.

As far as I can tell, there is one, and only one, advantage to omelets. An omelet is an opportunity to show off. You get to demonstrate your professional technique and slide the perfect yellow semi-circle out of the pan and on to the plate of a suitably grateful diner. Well, bully for you.

I’ll take the scramble, with eggs just barely set, and cheese distributed evenly throughout. Every bite has a little onion, a little sausage, a little spinach. I’ll take my scramble over your perfect yellow semi-circle any day. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that omelets top my list of over-rated foods, a list that also includes cupcakes, vegetable juice, marshmallows, and the downright disgusting Philly cheese steak.

I wonder if being an unyielding absolutist has anything to do with my not having all that many friends.

Nah.

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Comments

  1. I love omelets & scramble & over easy & poached & soft boiled & hard boiled! Seriously a good omelet is often one of my go to quick dinners. The texture to me is equally appealing as any other egg cookery. But since you love your scramble continue being an unyielding absolutist. It’s kind of cute. What’s a couple of more dishes anyways?

  2. How about a spanish omelette instead? Not as fussy as a french omelette but prettier than scrambled, one pan cooking. Perfect for tapas, lunch, hot, cold (I confess to not being so keen on that – but hey, I also confess to being odd!); go for the purest potato, oil and egg or start adding onion and/ or leeks and/ or tomato, ham, sausage etc etc
    http://www.eyeonspain.com/spain-magazine/spanish-omelette.aspx gives a good idea of the general drift …

    • Spanish omelette with GARLIC? All my Spanish tortilla purist genes are still trying to cope with this…..
      Javier

      • An absolutist and a purist??? Heck – that is a meeting of minds! Can we discuss the perfect boiled egg next? 🙂

        • Dont get me started on boiled eggs! We could be here for days… 🙂
          (That of course AFTER we define perfect… :-))

  3. I never make omelets myself, as I’m entirely wedded to the sunny side up egg. However. Have you ever seen the video of Julia Child cooking an omelet in about 45 seconds? Granted, she doesn’t put any filling in. It’s a plain omelet. But I’ve had omelets cooked that way, and they are silken, eggy goodness, cooked through, but only just.

    As for the cheese steak, I feel like I ought to be defending it, Pennsylvanian that I am. But I can’t figure out on what grounds to do so. I haven’t eaten one in ages, and because I’m getting to be more and more of a purist about the meat I eat, it’s not likely I’ll have one soon. But oh, when they’re done right they are a decadence worth committing. Much – very much – depends on the bread, as usual.

  4. LOL. Longtime reader, first comment. This post just killed me. I don’t really have too much of an opinion on marshmallows or vegetable juice, but I’m in full support of the rest of your over-rated list. I can hate on all of those until the sun comes up.

  5. Omlettes are pretty, chunky scrambles aren’t.

    Maybe a Frittata is the happy medium?

    I used to live on spinach and mushroom Frittatas when I was a student. Quick to make, cheaper than meat, reasonably tasty. We also had a big old frypan with the handle broken off. This worked well in the oven.

  6. What could you possibly have against a cheesesteak?! Beef, cheese, onions, and bread. I just can’t see the problem. Frankly, I think you’re nuts. Though I completely agree with you on the omelet front.

  7. What you need is a new omelette technique. Most of the problems you talk could be solved if you fry the stuff in a pan, then put the beaten eggs in the same pan, stir like crazy, so it is evenly spaced and cooked through more, but stop stirring before you have scrambled eggs so it sets like an omelette. And the nost import questions you will ask, why bother? Just finish scrambling, to that I will say that an omelette is easier to keep in a sandwich without it trying (succesfully most of the time) to escape and dribble all over your clothes, floor etc. Mind you the dogs love that bit…
    Javier

  8. Rick — I’m not sure unyielding absolutist can tolerate being told it’s “kind of cute.” But I’ll let it slide, just this once.

    Madcat — A Spanish omelet is a beautiful thing (and since a genuine Spaniard says no garlic, I’ll have to go with that). I haven’t had one in a long time — thanks for the reminder.

    Kate — Maybe I’ve never had a perfect omelet, and that is the source of my prejudice. But there are so many ways to make eggs delicious that it’s hard to convince myself to fuss with the one way that’s difficult. Still, I believe you. (More on the cheese steak with Jacki, below …)

    Paul — Thanks for joining in! I like it when lurkers come out of the shadows. And, since we see eye-to-eye on food, I hope you’ll keep talking.

    Kingsley — Yes, it’s aesthetic. Scrambles are definitely not pretty. But frittatas tend to have some of the same problems as omelets. You don’t get nice, creamy eggs. But you do get fillings distributed throughout, and the one-pan advantage. Perhaps I’ll break off a handle and give it a go.

    Jacki — Sure, when you say it like that it sounds delicious! But the devil’s in the details. The problem with the traditional cheesesteak is the goop that passes for cheese. It’s simply vile. Put shaved grass-fed beef with onions and gruyere on a nice crusty roll, and I’m in.

    Javier — I’ll grant the sandwich-filling advantage of an omelet. But I think my central problem is that, by the time eggs “set,” I think they’re overdone. I like them soft, so they fall out of the sandwich and the dog has a field day.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with you here! Mom cooked me too many over-cooked, rubbery and half-charred omelets when I was growing up. The sight of one now makes my stomach turn. But creamy scrambled eggs are very popular in my own kitchen.

  10. I’m with you on the PITA factor, but honestly? I still always go for an omelette because made well, they are both fabulous, not dry, no weird skin as you describe objects.

    plus, you never need to flip scrambled eggs in the air and i need as many small victories in my life as possible:)

  11. Myrna Bowman says:

    I agree with you on omlettes, probably I have never been able to cook one successfully. Wont even go there on Philly Cheesesteak 🙂

  12. I think you’d like one of my omelettes. They are soft set in the middle, and are cooked in the same pan as the fillings were sauteed, and I serve them in a messy pile unapologetically. They look a mess but they taste good.

    And I have never been able to stand cheese scrambled into eggs, much the same way I can’t stand scrambled eggs made with milk in them. Dunno why.

    I haven’t made Steve an omelette for breakfast for a long time- maybe I’ll do that next weekend.

  13. I sometimes find it funny that we have chickens because I don’t really like eating eggs plain. They make me feel slightly sick. Go figure. I still like having hens, love to bake, and thankfully have a few people who like to buy eggs from us.

  14. Christine — I didn’t have any traumatic childhood omelet experiences. I’ve only had a lot of mediocre omelets. But this all goes to show, it’s easier to make a bad omelet than a good one.

    Amanda — I’ll give you the flipping thing. Even though I’ve always been too much of a fraidy-cat to do it myself.

    Myrna — Maybe that’s my problem, too.

    Paula — I would happily eat anything you cooked for me. I have a great deal of faith in your skills. And I suspect, when you get your chickens, Steve will have many fine breakfasts.

    Robin — That’s a damn shame! If I didn’t like eggs, I don’t think I’d have chickens. I can’t use many in baked goods, as I am too much of a glutton to have baked goods lying around. I agree that chickens are interesting in and of themselves — but I can’t separate that from the part of their interest that comes from the fact that they generate these really good things to eat.

    Javier and Madcat — A perfect boiled egg is one in which the white is completely set, but only just. The yolk is warm and runny. That’s usually 2.72819 minutes in boiling water.

  15. We had eggs for dinner this evening. I offered Mike an omelette, but he knows that translates to ‘scrambled eggs with leftovers in it’. I have no patience for omlettes. Eggs should be a quick meal, that’s its genius.

    Apparently my patience can be measured: 27 seconds. If I put the microwave on for 30 seconds, I always open the door three seconds before the bell goes. 30-3=27. Until someone gives me the cookbook titled “Perfect 27-Second Omlettes” you can put me in the scrambled category.

    Our chickens aren’t anywhere near full production yet, and we’ve had a mild winter. What’s your secret?

  16. While I enjoy a good omlette, I just think there are so many better things to do with eggs. Right now I have a jar of pickled eggs in the frig, and they are going fast. I make pickled eggs when I have boiled beets, and since it is beet season right now, we will have purple pickled eggs for the next couple of months.

    Oh, and baked custards! When you get it right there is nothing better than a creamy custard. I like to do a savory custard like a crustless quiche for dinner sometimes.

    When I scramble eggs I like to dice the butter fine (you have to have it really cold to dice it), and then scramble the tiny cubes into the eggs. If you are cooking in a no-stick pan, then don’t melt butter in the pan, just add the eggs and let the butter melt as the eggs cook. It makes incredibly rich and creamy eggs. Since the butter does not sizzle it adds a true butter taste.

    Hmm, I think it is eggs for dinner tonight.

  17. Sure…just when in the last week I perfected my ability to flip an omelet in the air without it landing all over the grills of my gas burners…..after literally years of feeling inadequate about my inability to produce a perfect omelet (until I learned it was all about the pan)……..and now…NOW.. you declare them over-rated. Hrummff!

    What’s next..the crock pot? I finally made something god in that too!

    And thank you Amanda ..I too see it as one of life’s small victories..just like my learning of happy birthday on the ukulele…it may be the only song I can play…but I rock it.

  18. American omelette no, French omelette yes. But I think perhaps we all like what we grew up with! And I agree with custards. I’d be as big as a house, but I’d be eating creme brule and caramel as often as I could make them.

  19. I’m a big fan of whatever cooking method and/or dish requires the fewest dishes to wash afterward, like scrambled eggs versus omelets. I’m with you on cupcakes, too. They don’t have an acceptable frosting:cake ratio for one thing – a corner piece of cake is much better. The pans are also much more of a pain to wash than an 8″ round. So that’s my motivation: frosting and not washing dishes.

  20. I wholeheartedly agree. At a loss for words (a rare occasion), I once said “I just don’t like omelets because…..because……I think they are bourgeois!” Years later I am still taunted by friends for my choice in vocabulary; but I stand by them! Cupcakes, however, I like. Not because I think they are culinary masterpieces but they are pretty! Cupcake recipes fetch the highest readership on my blog!
    Keep scrambling!