I’ve been obsessed with making a true French omelet, Jacques Pépin-style, ever since I realized that omelets were basically the answer to all life’s problems. If by all life’s problems you mean the “What can I make for lunch that doesn’t involve a can, a box, or a resealable plastic bag?” question. And I do. I really do mean it.
The first attempt ended up in scrambled eggs, as I tried to mimic Pépin’s quick whipping motion after he’d set the eggs in the pan. This time, I allowed the bottom layer to set on the pan, while I only whipped the top, keeping large curds from forming. Large curds equal a traditional French country omelet with dark browned butter on the bottoms. But a traditional French omelet with fines herbes (parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil) should have uniform texture and should not be browned underneath.
I kind of, uh, forgot that butter was melting in my skillet, though, so mine is a bit browner than it should be, but I’m no worse for wear. I added some “fines herbes”-ish, from what I had–chives, parsley, and thyme. I had great plans of growing fines herbes in my little garden in our new place, but I managed to kill everything but chives, so.. it is what it is. I ordered a little packet of chervil seeds from Amazon.com, but I feel guilty letting my brown, brown thumb go anywhere near them.
The earthiness of the sautéed shiitakes melded so, so well with the creamy smoky flavor of the gouda, and the thyme added a nice aromatic element. You’ll love this because it’s simple to keep ready in the fridge (a hunk of smoked gouda, some eggs, a few herbs if you’ve got them, and a handful of shiitakes) and the flavors are truly remarkable, making for a special, yet simple lunch.
Note: I, of course, do not really measure, when it comes to lunch–I tend to just “cook“. Use your own taste and preferences as a guide in replicating this recipe. Love cheese? Go for it, boo. Prefer baby bellas? I won’t tell. Know how to actually grow chervil without suffocating it? It’s all yours.
I like the smokiness of the gouda, so a gruyère would also work tremendously well here. If smoky ain’t your thing, the technique will still work work for you, no matter what you throw in as filling.
Traditional French Omelet with Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms and Smoked Gouda
– 2 eggs (3, if your “main” primary dish)
– about 1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, and chives; cilantro would be great with feta or monterey jack; sage or tarragon could easily replace the thyme)
– about 1/2 cup fresh wild mushrooms, sliced (I used shiitakes; available at most grocery stores)
– about 1/4 cup grated smoked gouda
– sea salt, fresh cracked pepper
– melt about 0.5 tablespoon butter (you can get away with just a small sliver here) in a small (about 6″) nonstick skillet over medium heat
– add mushrooms and raise heat to medium-high
– mushrooms will absorb all the butter, seem quite dry, you’ll be tempted to add more oil/butter, and then the mushrooms will expel the liquid. When they’ve expelled the butter and seem “sautéed” (darker and look wet), remove from heat and set mushrooms aside
– replace pan and heat 1 tablespoon butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat
– in a small bowl, crack eggs, add herbs, and whisk vehemently with a fork until the eggs and herbs are smooth and consistent (avoiding long strings of egg white if you lift up the fork)
– pour eggs into the skill and let very bottoms set (about 15 seconds, maybe 30)
– with your fork, continue to “whisk” back and forth the top layer of the eggs, taking care not to really disturb the bottom of the omelet that has already set
– as your eggs continue to set and you see you have not left any large curds, let finish cooking
– sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (adding salt before cooking can cause eggs to become tough)
– when eggs are all set (no longer wobbly, clear, or liquid), sprinkle shredded smoked gouda on half of the omelet
– let melt a bit then lay sautéed mushrooms on the same half
– using a thin knife or spatula, lift up the edges of the half of the omelet without cheese and mushrooms and fold gently over the cheesy side
– gently jiggle pan, releasing the rest of the omelet and slip onto your plate
– garnish with extra herbs or cheese if you wish