It’s 7:30 a.m., and I’m starving. For some reason, I dreamt all night about the perfect omelet: three eggs, soft scrambled center, and without a tear in sight. With the ever looming commute, time is not on my side. I quickly whisk and season my eggs, pouring them into a buttered nonstick pan. As I break up the quickly forming curds and start to roll it, disaster strikes: Liquid gold seeps out and onto the rest of the pan. My perfect omelet is no more. I settle for a mangled scramble and am left wondering why my omelets keep falling apart.
French omelets are notoriously simple, but can still be troublesome for amateur and professional cooks. In many fine-dining kitchens, chefs will often have new cooks prepare them an omelet because it shows so much skill in just one task. A chef can tell if you are organized and efficient, if you know how to handle a pan on the stove, and if you know how to properly season your food in a matter of minutes.
Perfectly rolled omelets are extremely fickle. At their best, they should have no color, be crack free, have a soft, scrambled-like texture with small moist curds on the inside, and be in a cigar/almond-like shape. There are a number of variables that cause omelets like these to simply fall apart before even getting close to a warm plate and a side of bacon.
To understand how to make a super smooth omelet, and what makes it fall apart, we’ll turn to science! Crack open your nearest copy of Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking and get your protein-coagulation and egg-cookery hats on. Before diving into the perfect omelet, we need to understand what an egg is composed of and how those components react to each other and to heat.
Eggs are primarily made up of proteins, lipids, and water. Generally speaking, proteins are responsible for structure in food, so they’re our golden ticket to an omelet that doesn’t crumble. You want to keep the proteins close together, and there are two tricks that will ensure this. One: Don’t add any milk or cream to your omelets, as they will just dilute those structure-building proteins. Two: Scramble your eggs quickly in the pan to form smaller egg curds. This creates more closely associated protein interactions and forms a more tightly knit system than if you allowed for big curds to form.
When it comes to rolling your omelet, there are some important visual cues that will guarantee an unbroken omelet. As you break up the coagulating curds (I like to use chopsticks, but a rubber spatula or fork works well too), if there is still liquid egg rolling around the pan, keep stirring. There should be some viscosity to the eggs, though. If the eggs are completely coagulated, your omelet will tear as you roll. In both cases, the omelet will tear, so we are looking for that sweet spot in the middle where the eggs are creamy and loose, but only loose enough to slide slowly across the pan to form a thin layer.
Now that you have your softly scrambled eggs, tilt your pan and gently roll the egg to the other side. Simply invert onto a plate, get a quick Snapchat in there, and enjoy!
Total time: 5 minutes
Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk until homogeneous. Season with salt and pepper (optional).
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and cook until foamy. Do not let the butter brown.
Add eggs and vigorously mix in the pan with your chopsticks while shaking the pan. Do this for a minute or two, until the eggs are creamy and no longer runny.
Look for the visual cue of the small curds still being tender and moist, but not watery.