Omelettes can come in many forms, but which is the best? Louise Wates discovers the beauty of sieving the eggs first.

Making an omelette – seasoning beaten eggs and throwing them into a pan – may be easy, but getting it ‘right’ is something else entirely.

The trick, I recently discovered, is knowing what to aim for.

When it comes to what makes a great omelette, light and fluffy appears to be preferred over one that can be bounced onto the plate. Yet opinion on how to achieve this is divided.

What do the experts say?

In food historian Dr Annie Gray’s The Kitchen Cabinet, it’s said that panellists from the Radio 4 programme of the same name have nearly come to blows over how to cook an omelette.

In her Complete Cookery Course, the seemingly unflappable Delia Smith says “on no account over-beat” the eggs. Simply stir the yolks into the whites with a large fork, or even just the blade of a knife.

Elsewhere, Chef Raymond Blanc, who holds two Michelin stars at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, also says not to break the eggs down too much because we want the contrast of textures.

However, chef and Kitchen Cabinet panellist James Petrie goes so far as to sieve the eggs.

Culinary heresy? Maybe not, but it does result in the loss of the contrasting textures advocated by Blanc.

Sieving the eggs

Sieving eggs results in a smooth, almost silky omelette.

But a word of advice; to avoid having to contend with snot-like tendrils of egg white, beat the eggs well before pouring into the sieve.

The end result is almost worth the effort, producing an omelette that may even prove acceptable to children (or adults) who aren’t keen on too much texture, or who don’t much like egg whites — usually the least favoured part.

But note, I do say ‘almost worth the effort’ because sieving eggs does feel like over-egging (sorry) the process, while creating extra washing up.

Beating the eggs with an ordinary balloon whisk until they appear completely blended doesn’t take long at all. Season with salt and pepper, and it’s good to go.

How to cook an omelette

The next sticking point is the actual cooking process. The convenience of non-stick pans and avoidance of dietary fat has led to many of us cooking without butter or oil.

However, until I can be sure a non-stick pan doesn’t contain PFAS (so-called ‘forever chemicals’), I prefer to take my chances with butter or olive oil in a stainless steel pan.

For extra flavour, Smith even recommends adding a little melted butter to the beaten eggs — although I tried and didn’t notice any difference.

When melting the butter, don’t let it burn — it doesn’t have a high smoke point. As it starts to foam, pour in the eggs, ‘over’-beaten or otherwise.

Cooking time is also debated. You may have heard of the three-minute omelette, but some say this is a monstrosity and to aim for seven minutes instead.

Regardless, the tip is to aim for slightly underdone.

Making the perfect omelette

Having a real aversion to ‘snotty eggs’ (my mother still remembers the tantrums) I had always cooked omelettes until they were golden brown on the outside and solid inside.

But, having discovered the silkiness that results from well-beaten eggs, I now aim for pale and fluffy, with a thin, almost creamy, uncooked layer within.

To achieve this, cook the eggs over a low to medium heat, using a utensil to gently break up the liquid as it begins to cook. This adds fluffiness.

When the very top of the omelette is all that remains uncooked, carefully use a spatula to fold it — a half moon is perfectly fine if folding both sides towards the middle seems too complicated.

It turns out, you don’t have to be a chef to create a great omelette.

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