French Cheese Omelet, American-Style

French Cheese Omelet, American-Style 150 150 David Rosengarten

This recipe from It’s All American Food perfectly expresses the theme of the book: validating the culinary changes wrought in America by immigrants who, for various reasons, had to change their cuisine once they got here. If you treat this food with love…you’ll love it!

The French cheese omelet is a beautiful thing: light, unbrowned, runny, frail, elegant. It has never caught on in America. When we coagulate eggs in a pan, pardner, we want some browning. And some chunks! We want some texture beyond “delicate.” If you order an omelet in a diner, NEVER expect to get the French thing; ALWAYS expect to get the browned American thing. But lots of Americans today know that there is virtue in that French style. For one thing, the un-browned eggs are softer, more tender; our browned omelets toughen up, and often dry out. So with the best of both cultures in mind, I’ve created an omelet that has lots of French technique in it, and an un-browned surface—but will satisfy the American taste for chew, and for bolder flavor. The most important and unusual element is the cheese. In a real French cheese omelet, the cheese is sprinkled on the eggy interior, and just melts. In this Franco-American hybrid, the cheese is first browned in the pan–adding lots more cheesy taste, and lots more texture.

Makes one serving

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One-ounce slice of Swiss cheese
2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 extra-large eggs

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a non-stick, 10-inch omelet pan over high heat. When the butter has melted, place the Swiss cheese slice in the pan. Cook rapidly until the cheese has browned on the bottom, about 30-60 seconds. Remove to paper towel. Let cool for 10 or 15 minutes. When cool enough, cut the browned cheese into small bits.

2. Place the mustard in a small mixing bowl, and break the eggs into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, and whisk for 30 seconds. Stir the cheese bits into the eggs.

3. Wipe out the pan well with a paper towel. Place the remaining tablespoon of butter in it over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter melts, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Stir the mass with a fork to distribute cheese evenly. Manipulate it with a spatula into a shape that’s roughly a circle. Grab the handle of the pan, and elevate the pan at about a 45-degree angle. Jerk the pan so that the omelet bunches up against the pan’s far edge. As soon as the inside of the omelet  is almost set-the whole process should take no more than 45 seconds from the time the eggs hit the pan-place the edge of the pan with the omelet on a wide dinner plate. Flip the pan over, rolling the omelet onto the plate, so that a neat oval is formed. Serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of Sarah McInerney, Tried and Tasted

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