The title is inspired by my recent obsession with Lee DeWyze’s version of Treat Her Like A Lady from this year’s American Idol. (It’s definitely one of my guilty pleasures, along with McDonald’s 2-for-99-cents apple pies.)
As much as I love eating eggs, getting them right is one tricky business. Think about the stuff you do with eggs; cracking them with no bits of broken shells in the bowl; removing the bits if you failed to do so; frying them sunny side up without breaking the yolk; scrambling them and getting the texture right; boiling them with the yolks in the center; making an omelet with the filling actually inside the omelet; whipping meringue; and god, imagine poaching one. None of it is easy. Even cleaning a cracked egg on the counter is no piece of cake. (Any tips?)
The reason they are so difficult to handle is that these thin shells full of slimy liquid (sound very appetizing) are very, very sensitive to pressure and heat. Let’s take frying an egg for an example. You drizzle a little oil over the skillet and wait for it to get hot. Hmm, seems pretty hot. You crack an egg open, and with a loud sizzle, the egg whites start bubbling up on the edges. Crap, a tiny piece of the shell got in there. While trying to pick it out with your fingers, only failing and getting your fingers slimy, the whites turn opaque and solid, and now you have to dissect your egg into pieces or forget about it. Okay, given up on the shell, you attempt to flip it to cook the other side, somehow keeping the yolk intact, all nice and liquidy. Oh gees, the egg is stuck to the skillet. You try scraping the bottom with the flipper, and it comes off after a few rough jabs…only with the runny yolk all over the skillet now. Frustrated, you give it a couple of more flips and quickly down the rubbery slab of white and yellow swirls (something like this) before anyone witnesses your complete lack of cooking talent — I mean, it’s supposed to be as easy as making a cup of noodles, right?
Well, it’s not. Unless you are boiling them in water, eggs usually cook in a matter of seconds, and it requires a great deal of sophistication and speed to shape it the way you want. The bottom line is: they are sensitive and you have to be gentle and delicate.
Whisk two to three eggs, then strain it through a fine strainer. This results in a smoother surface of the omelet. Mix in a tablespoon of cream or milk to soften it. Season it with salt and white pepper.
Heat a well-coated 6 to 8-inch round pan over medium-low heat with half a tablespoon of butter and cooking oil each. If you use butter only, the butter will make it burn easily (unless you are using clarified butter). If you use oil only, the pan will be too slippery and you will miss out on the rich flavor. Make sure you grease the sides too, by the way.
Turn up the heat just a bit, and pour in the egg mixture, reserving about a tablespoon of it. As soon as the edges start solidifying, scramble it into a chunky yet wet mixture. Thick chopsticks work amazingly well. You should be able to see the parts of it still runny and shiny. (If your heat is too low, your chunks will be too small and won’t give it enough volume. If it’s too high, it will be too dry to roll.) If the heat is too high and you see no runny parts, pour in the extra tablespoon you’ve reserved.
Immediately turn down the heat to low. Using a spatula, gently shape the mixture into a flat oval and push it toward the edge of the pan, away from the handle. Tilt up the pan slightly with your left hand, holding the spatula with your right hand (or the other way around, however you like). Keep it tilted so that the edge curled up against the side of the pan cooks first. Once the very bottom solidifies, using your spatula, gently fold in the edge into a curve. Push the omelet towards the edge a bit further, from the opposite side. Fold in the edge once more. Now just pushing it from the other side will make it naturally curl in, but repeat curling if necessary. Repeat until it’s completely rolled into a long football shape. Keep tilting your pan back and forth, rotating the omelet gently, to cook it thoroughly without overcooking a single side.
If you want to add filling, do it right after shaping the scramble mixture. Rather than just sprinkling it over, push it down a bit, as if you are tucking it in, to prevent it from falling out as you roll up the omelet.