As readers of the blog know, I have a more than a few obsessions, chicken being one of them. It follows that eggs are also an obsession. I eat eggs virtually every morning. Along with coffee, there is no better way to start your day. Let me then give you one of my favorite breakfasts, a dish I make at least twice a week if not more: a baked omelette.
Is this a quiche, you might ask. No, it’s not a quiche. I know that real men eat quiche but I’ve never been a huge fan of quiche. A baked omelette is excellent, then, for people in my camp. Even if you are a fan of quiche, I trust you will love this as well. The differences? First, there is no crust. I love a good flaky crust as much as anyone but I certainly don’t have time to roll one out in the morning. A good flaky crust also isn’t the healthiest thing to eat every day. A baked omelette is lighter, healthier and easier to make. It cooks in the oven much faster than a quiche, so it has a different consistency. It may not be incredibly attractive, but when something tastes this good, who cares?
A baked omelette is also very versatile. As the recipe below shows, you can incorporate all kinds of flavors into it, which means you can make it over and over and still keep it original and delicious.
It’s also damn good.
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Ideally, you use a cast-iron skillet. If you have a cast iron skillet, excellent. If you don’t, now is the time. Seriously. You can get a 10 inch Lodge Cast Iron skillet at Amazon for 16 bucks. Probably cheaper if you go to Target or WalMart. I have 4 cast irons. One of them I’ve used for over 20 years! There is nothing better to have in the kitchen and there is no greater value, given the output a cast iron skillet creates for under 20 dollars.
A ten inch skillet makes a terrific baked omelette for 2-3 people. An 6 inch cast iron is perfect for one person.
Here’s how you do it. You will thank me later.
The easiest thing about this dish is what might initially be confusing… after a few basic ingredients, you can throw almost anything into a baked omelette.
The important thing to remember is once you decide what you want in it, cook in order of longest to cook to shortest to cook. If you are using potatoes, bacon and onions, for instance, add them to the pan in that order, so all are ready at the same time.
Something wonderful about this dish is even if you are short on ingredients, you can still make it. Don’t have potatoes and/or bacon? No big deal. It will still be terrific. Even better, you can prep the sautéed ingredients the night before so you can make it faster in the morning. I often make a big vat of the base ingredients on a Sunday, to keep in the fridge and have ready to use all week. Properly prepped, this is 15 – 20 minutes from fridge to table meal, prepping the recipe while the oven preheats, then a quick ten minutes to bake.
AND… if you make the amazing recipe in my last blog post, potato confit, you will always have full cooked potatoes ready to throw into the skillet every morning… or have them to eat on the side. Or both!
(Seriously, you must try the potato confit!)
I’ll give you a basic recipe and a couple of variations. But remember, if you don’t have everything, or if, say, you don’t like tomatoes or you are a vegetarian, it doesn’t matter. Make a baked omelette with what you have on hand and the baked omelette will make you very happy.
INGREDIENTS (For 2-3 people)
– Olive oil or butter
– 6 eggs, beaten, with a quick dollop of milk (milk optional)
– One small russet potato, diced (or a few smaller potatoes, diced)
– 3 strips of bacon, diced (pancetta is a lovely substitute)
– half an onion, chopped
– a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
– handful of grated cheese
– Preheat oven to 400
– In a 10 inch oven ready skillet, saute the diced potato over medium heat in a glug or two of olive oil. Feel free to use a small pad of butter instead. (If you are using diced potato confit, throw them in with the onion since the potato confit is already cooked.)
– After a few minutes, add the diced bacon, then, a few minutes later, add the onion.
** This is where the omelette can begin to take on different flavors, or identities, if you will… see the variations below. You want to give it flavors here. For the basic version, salt and pepper is a must.
– Gently saute until the potato and onion are soft and cooked through, even caramelized, and the bacon is crisping.
– Remove from the heat and let cool for a minute or so. (This is to keep the eggs from scrambling or cooking when you pour them in.)
– Scatter the tomatoes and cheese over the contents of the skillet and pour in the beaten egg mixture. While you want to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed in the skillet, do this gently and resist the temptation to stir! Or you will end up with baked scrambled eggs, not a baked omelette! (Thank you for reminding me of that instruction, Andie Redwine!)
– Place in the oven and bake. It usually takes about 10 minutes but I start checking at 8 minutes. Open the oven and slightly shake the skillet. If anything jiggles, it is not done.
– You want to pull it out just after the jiggling stops, when it is firm but not hard. Cook it too long and the taste and consistency change. If you like very hard eggs, this may be your desire.
– Remove the skillet and let sit for a minute. Use a knife or spatula around the edges to separate the omelette from the pan. Slice pizza style and serve.
MEXICAN: This is my favorite. Along with the onion, toss in some sliced strips of fresh corn tortilla, to cook down and crisp a little in the skillet. (The tortilla adds incredible flavor. In a rush, crumble up some tortilla chips, though fresh is much better.) I add a little cumin seed and oregano here as well. Canned diced green chilis are wonderful also. Or fresh diced red and yellow pepper added with the onion. Cheddar cheese certainly works with this, but a mexican blend, or Mancheco (yum) is great, too. Serve this with fresh pico de gallo, Tapatio, and sliced avocado or guacamole.
FRENCH: Use fresh herbs here: chives, thyme, basil (any or all) … or herbs de provence. You could add diced roasted asparagus to the saute. And then use goat cheese. Or even Brie. A good sliced sausage would be a good replacement for the bacon.
You can begin to see just how varied the ingredients and flavors can be. Try these two variations, then pick your own favorite veggies and flavors and see what happens. It truly is a versatile and wonderful dish.
And not just for breakfast. I love it for dinner, even… you can have this any time of day!