Saturday, February 10, 2007

Simplicity - Not As Easy As It Sounds

It’s so strange how the most simple and basic questions are the most difficult to answer. What is heat, really? Why do airplanes fly? Why does Britney Spears insist on letting me down, time and time again? Well, maybe that one is not so difficult to answer. Regardless, sometimes objectively complicated things can seem easy and turn out well, while something really simple and basic is a complete nightmare to master. Take, for example, the standard French omelette (I must be on an egg kick). It is so much harder than it sounds.

Feeling inspired by Julia Child after watching her on the French Chef (thank you, Netflix!) I decided to have a go at making an omelette, following her lead. I did not have the patience to practice my omelette manipulation technique before jumping in (Julia recommends using dried beans to simulate the motion of the egg mixture in the pan), nor did I have the heart to add nearly as much butter as she did (frankly, I think it’s a medical miracle that she lived to 92). Maybe I should have done both those things. I should have probably also used the right size pan for the job (mine was 2 inches too big in diameter). So many should-haves. Tant pis, as Julia would say (I think).

It looked easy enough. Add the beaten eggs (2 to 3 eggs per omelette, salt, pepper, teaspoon of cold water. No idea why the water) to the pan (7.5 to 8 inches in diameter) once the foaming of the butter (~1 tbsp, but I am pretty sure I used less) begins to subside. Let the eggs sit still for about 5 seconds, then start swirling the pan around to expose more of the eggs to the heat, allowing them to begin to coagulate (her word, not mine… it makes me think of blood). Then begin jerking the pan toward yourself so that the egg “pancake” folds in on itself. Tip the omelette out onto a plate, seam side down. The whole process should take about 20 seconds (!). The eggs should be just barely set, and therefore, creamy and luxurious (my word, not hers).

Well, not so much with the jerking and the folding. I really do think my pan was just too big - my egg pancake was too thin and the jerking did nothing but scramble the whole business instead of making it move it in a single sheet. My omelette looked a little disheveled and generally out of sorts.

After sprinkling a bit of parmesan on top, taking about 20 pictures and sitting down to breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised. While totally ugly, the eggs really were very creamy and closely bordering on luxurious. Cooking them the bare minimum of time is definitely the trick here, I think.

I have a lot of practicing to do… although my cleaning lady may quit if I start tossing beans all around the apartment. My kitchen is enough for her to deal with as it is.

P.S. I think this post make take the prize for the most parentheses used (ever).


atp said...

20 seconds? Bloody hell!
I don't claim to be an omelette expert or anything, but I'm sure I cook mine for round about the 3-4 minute mark. Is my heat too low? Am I not jerking enough?

Anna said...

atp - You're back! Yay. I am afraid I am in no position to comment on either your heat or your jerking, but I can say that Mrs. Child recommends the pan be placed on the highest heat possible and the jerks should be, well, jerky and sharp... and numerous (~5 does the trick). And loud! I made a racket this morning. I suggest you apply yourself to jerking practice and I shall do the same.

atp said...

I'm not sure how to formulate a response that isn't full of sexual innuendo. I'm back, apparantly with the mind of a pubescent boy! Yay.

Anna said...

"...with the mind of a pubescent boy!" You make it sound like it's a bad thing! If that's the case, I am in serious trouble :)

Ben Chen said...

mmmm jerking...I mean omelettes...

I AM a pre-pubescent in terms of mental maturity. I usually don't jerk my eggs, (YOU FILL IN THE REST).

As for omelettes, I must say that my favorite omelette is the Denny's Denver Omelette. Sorry, but I am an uncouth barbarian.

JC said...

Yes, all this talk of jerking...I may need a moist towelette!

Speaking of jerk, I can't wait for the jerk chicken post.

And you know, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs (rimshot).

I know how to make an omelette, but not a fancy one. So I'm afraid I'm of no help other than to say: "Keep practicing GB!"

Anna said...

Ben - I am not sure that uncouth barbarians can a) spell uncouth, and b) become aware of the fact that they are uncouth barbarians. I think you're in the clear, Denny's or not :)

JC - you must have read my mind. I did just have some fantabulous jerk chicken but the pictures turned out less than appetizing. May have to wait for the next time. Terribly sorry to be dense (I am about three quarters past tired right now) but what/who is GB? Sorry. Slow here. Committee meeting over though! Off to bed for me.

JC said...

Gastronomic Badass™, of course!

Anna said...

Oh, DUH. Awesome.