A traditional French omelette (omelet) is light, simple and oh so tasty. A common version is this one with a delicate herb filling, it makes a delicious and easy breakfast (though it's great any time of day).
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Eggs and breakfast go hand in hand on so many places. Your classic American brunch menu typically has at least one eggs Benedict variation, for example. Though in Spain, that's actually less the case and dishes like Spanish tortilla and Flamenco eggs are at earliest lunch.
This French way with eggs is one you might eat any time of day. You might only need a few ingredients, but don't let that fool you into thinking there is nothing to it. It's more about technique than lots of things going in it, but the result is so good.
What's the difference between a French omelette and an American omelet?
The French version is paler, cooked slower, over a medium-low heat, and with lots of movement as you cook to keep it light. The color is an even yellow on the outside and you gently roll it up to enclose the soft middle that can be slightly runny, or not, depending on your taste.
Sometimes you don't add anything other than butter, salt and pepper to the eggs, but herbs are another popular filling.
An American omelet, meanwhile, is often loaded up with whatever you may find in the fridge. It's also cooked over a higher heat to give a gently brown and crisp underside.
They are subtle differences, but they do change the end result. The French version is more about technique, part of which is getting a decent amount of butter incorporated into the egg for a rich flavor. It also leads to a more even texture that's a bit more delicate.
Both are delicious, just different, and if you haven't tried this type yet, it's definitely worth getting to know.
What are fines herbes?
Fines herbes are a French herb mix that you will find added to a few dishes. Unlike most other mixes that use dried herbs, such as herbes de Provence, this is made with fresh herbs. It's a blend of parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil.
The blend is a classic addition to a plain omelette to make this omelette aux fines herbes. The delicate herbs work so well with the fluffy eggs and butter. The flavors are subtle but also allowed to shine.
Tips for making a French omelette
As I say, this style is really more about technique as the ingredients are really simple. You start by mixing the eggs and herbs, then melt the butter in a small skillet as you start cooking.
A few tips to help it turn out well:
- Whisk the eggs well before you start cooking. This helps you have an even texture rather than lumps of either white or yolk - you want the eggs to drip evenly from your fork.
- Use a nonstick skillet/frying pan. OK, you don't have to, but it does make things that bit easier, I think. No matter what, you want one that cooks evenly.
- Make sure you cook over a low heat. This is not a dish to cook quickly, that pale color comes by cooking slowly.
- Keep moving and mixing the eggs as they cook initially. This helps to make them fluffy, cook evenly and to mix the butter in with the eggs.
- Fold in the sides as the underside starts to solidify. This helps to give you the classic shape - simply loosen the edge from the skillet, in case it sticks, then fold the sides in with a spatula or fork.
- Roll the omelette onto your plate. It might seem a little clumsy, but it's the easiest way for it to hold its shape.
- Remember eggs continue to cook a little after being taken off the heat - to me, it's worth going slightly under rather than overcooked with this. But either way, err on the side of slightly under as they will cook a little more.
A French omelette with herbs might seem a little intimidating at first, but it's really a very simple dish. Yes, it can take a couple attempts to practice, and may not always come out perfectly, But you'll still be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of this dish, and want to try it again anyway to enjoy it some more.
Try these other delicious egg dishes:
- Menemen (a delicious Turkish scrambled eggs with softened vegetables mixed through)
- Eggs Florentine (a Benedict variation with spinach)
- Broccoli goat cheese frittata (an easy and tasty combination, perfect for any time of day)
- Baked eggs with mushrooms and asparagus (so easy and a tasty combination)
- Plus get more French recipes and breakfast recipes in the archives.
French omelette with herbs
- ½ tablespoon chopped chives
- ½ tablespoon chopped tarragon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 3 eggs
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tablespoon butter
- Finely chop the herbs then add them into a bowl with the eggs and salt. Whisk them together well so that the eggs are well broken up - using a fork can be easier to save the pieces of herbs getting caught up in a whisk, but both work.
- Warm a small skillet/frying pan (around 8 in/20cm) over a medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it gradually melt and start to foam slightly - it should be a slow melt, not a fast sizzle.
- Add the egg-herb mixture to the skillet and use a fork to move the mixture around, break up the curds as they form and incorporate the butter into the eggs. You also want to try to stop the eggs sticking too much. Scrape down any bits of egg that stick to the side.
- Gradually cook the eggs - it will almost certainly take longer than you expect unless you are well practiced - and stop stirring as more of the eggs start to firm up. Once the edges are cooked but it is still slightly soft in the middle and on top, loosen the edge and lift up to make sure it isn't stuck, then fold in one side. You can either fold in both sides then roll it on to the plate, or you can roll a few times from one side then slide onto a plate. You want it to be at least folded in thirds, or a little more if you prefer, but it doesn't need to be tight.
- Serve immediately, either on it's own or it's also good with a lightly dressed green salad.
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