The Classic French Omelet à la Jacques Pépin

The Classic French Omelet à la Jacques PépinI just turned the big five-ohhhh. In Paris. And it was freakin’ awesome. Our fourth visit to the city of lights was quite different from those that came before. We didn’t have to do all the touristy stuff, like hit the top of the Eiffel Tower, walk up the hundreds of steps to get to Notre Dame’s roof, or spend an entire day lost in The Louvre.

We got to really experience Paris. Wandering the streets. Stopping for “deux cafés, s’il vous plaît.” And eating a lot of everything from street crêpes to a gourmet dinner at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Saint-Germain.

Many memories traveled back with us, but one of my favorites is that of the classic French omelet I had (twice) at Les Deux Magots.

The classic French omelet is not like our American versions which are so often overstuffed with fatty meats and greasy cheeses. They are perfection on a plate. Thin, creamy, and containing only a small amount of ham, cheese, and/or fresh herbs. Not over-cooked. Rolled perfectly and paired with a simple mix of lightly dressed salad greens.

So damn good.

After coming home, I decided it’s time for me to perfect this one classic dish. And who else to learn from than the fabulously handsome Jacques Pépin? I found a perfect 5-minute video of him demonstrating his technique from the New York Times. That coupled with the recipe below should give me a good start. Won’t you join me? After all…

If you have extraordinary eggs, herbs from the garden, extraordinary butter, and a little bit of technique, an omelet can be a great, great dish.

– Jacques Pépin

The Classic French Omelet Fines Herbes

From KQED’s Jacques Pépin Celebrates!

The Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • Dash salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped herbs (1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley and 1 tbsp. finely chopped mixture of chervil, tarragon, and chives is the classic combo.)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

The Technique

Using a fork, beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, and herbs in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a 6-8″ nonstick skillet. When foaming, add the eggs. Holding your fork flat, stir the eggs quickly while shaking the pan back and forth. Continue so the eggs coagulate uniformly.

When eggs are lightly set but moist, incline your pan forward so most of the eggs gather at the far end of the pan. Stop stirring. The mass of eggs should thin out around the edges at the near end. Using your fork, fold this thin edge toward the center of the omelet, enclosing the thick, moist center.

Press the fold into place, creating a rounded edge. Run your fork between the edge of the pan and the far edge of the omelet to loosen. Using the palm of one hand, tap the handle gently where it joins the pan, to shake the omelet and make it twist and lift onto itself, so the lip rises above the edge of the pan. Fold this lip back toward the center of the omelet, meeting and overlapping the edge of the other lip. Press with the flat of the fork to shape the omelet into a point at each end.

Holding your serving plate, bang the underside of the pan against the counter at the omelet end, so the omelet moves against the edge of the pan. Invert the omelet onto a plate. Press with the flat of the fork to shape the omelet into a point at each end.

Et voilà!

Image Credit: French Omelet via Shutterstock

Written by Mary Gerush

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