Many years ago, when I visited Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, I watched with awe as kitchen wizards whipped up a simple yet ethereal dish of eggs cooked over an open fire. Fast forward to now and wanting to cook from the pantry as much as possible, but still hoping for a bit of magic, here’s a simplified recipe for this French-inspired egg souffle, or what I call a puff omelet.
The souffle-like lift comes from whisking the yolks and whites separately, before gently folding them together. The wow factor is in the simple technique and for best results you’ll need an 8-to-9-inch, preferably nonstick skillet with a lid.
The flavors can be adjusted accordingly — perhaps toss in some thin slices of smoked salmon, leftover bits of roast chicken, or sautéed mushrooms for a more substantial affair? Sometimes I add lemon zest and ricotta or extra herbs, or garlic chili crunch for some kick. Economical and impressive as a light breakfast, lunch, or dinner, try with a side salad and some buttered toast.
Makes 2 to 3 servings
4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 to 2 ounces fresh ricotta (optional)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 ounce/about 4 tablespoons grated Comté, Gruyère or Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, parsley, dill or basil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Garnishes: fresh herbs; freshly-ground black pepper; shaved mushroom; grated cheese; chili crunch
Separate yolks into a medium bowl and whites into a larger bowl. Whisk yolks and ricotta, if using, with a generous pinch of salt and some freshly-ground black pepper. Using a whisk, handheld mixer or standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk whites until firm peaks form, about one and a half to two minutes. Peaks should stand firm when whisk is lifted up. Add half of beaten egg whites to yolks and stir until thoroughly combined and yolks are loosened up a bit; don’t worry about being too gentle here since you’ll be folding in remaining whites. Add in most of the cheese, reserving some for the top, if desired, and herbs. Add remaining beaten whites and, using a silicone spatula if available, gently fold in remaining whites, just until combined and being careful not to deflate mixture.
Melt butter in an 8-to-9-inch, preferably nonstick, skillet placed over medium heat. When butter is foaming, gently scrape egg base into pan and, using back of spatula, spread into an even circle. Cover pan with a lid and cook until bottom is golden brown and omelet still a bit loose, about two minutes; reduce heat, as needed, if bottom is browning too quickly. Cook a bit longer for firmer eggs. Add remaining cheese, if using, and cover and let cook another minute. Carefully slide omelet out of pan onto a warm serving plate and fold top half over onto itself. Serve at once with more herbs and a crack of freshly ground pepper.