Ok…that was not taken this morning, but I still like the picture. One of the perks of not living in the middle of town.
My go-to Saturday morning fare is Pancakes and Bacon, with lots (and lots) of coffee. It’s comfort food for me, and can easily translate into breakfasts at home, while camping, or even the rare instances when I end up traveling for work over a weekend. On the other hand, however, I do enjoy cooking things that are a bit more…complex… at times.
Today was an Omelette Day.
Omelettes, to me, are a great source of protein and also an opportunity to explore taste combinations and random ideas. Most of them work out well…most.
Today, the meal included:
- Bacon (because…Bacon!)
- Sweet potato
- Cheddar cheese (two varieties, mixed. I also like Gruyere or Mozzarella, but went with cheddar, today)
- Tomato sauce (I did not have this on-hand, so I made a diluted tomato paste with herbs and garlic)
- Chopped rainbow Kale
As is customary for me, on Omelette days, it kicks off with the Bacon cooking and the tomato sauce heating. The kale (I like either that or spinach in these) goes into the sauce as it heats and thickens, to wilt it and integrate it into the flavors. To take off some of the edge of the kale, the tomato sauce also got a small helping of sweet riesling, as it began to heat.
I usually use one strip of bacon for each omelette, but I also add a “Chef’s tax” to what is cooked, to sustain myself while slaving away in the kitchen!
The tomato sauce with kale gets a lid, and a long, slow cooking to thoroughly wilt and integrate the greens. The bacon also provides the majority of the cooking grease for the rest of the cooking, with only a little butter in use, in some stages. While these get going, there is chopping to be done.
I sometimes use yellow potatoes, but prefer a good chopped sweet one. I think it contrasts with the remaining acidity of the tomato sauce and the saltiness brought by the bacon. I usually saute the mushrooms and onions separately, at the beginning. I go for a slight crispy edge on the mushrooms, and find that throwing them in with the onions generates too much initial liquid to get there.
Mushrooms, on a higher heat, are ready faster, and get set aside until the onions have had a chance to caramelize on their own. This is the point where either the vent fan goes on, or the house gets too full of tasty smells…meaning, one of the pieces of “tax bacon” disappears.
As soon as the mushrooms are out of the larger pan, it’s time for the cubed sweet potatoes. The pan gets a drizzle of the bacon grease, cranked up to about med-high, and in they go. Swirl them around until every cube glistens a bit, spread them into a single layer, and let them sit and start to cook.
Let them go until you have a bit of browning on a couple of sides. This can take a while, as sweet potatoes are pretty dense and not very moist. Move them around every couple of minutes, so you don’t miss them beginning to brown, and also keep an eye on the tomato sauce and onions. Both require monitoring to avoid overcooking. As soon as you see brown edges on the majority of the potato cubes, we need to address the fact that they do not soften very well, on their own. You can easily brown the sides and still end up with a bit of the raw crunch in the middle, especially if the cubes ended up a bit big in the chopping process. To solve this, I do a pan simmer. Crank the heat to high, give it 20-30 seconds to catch up, and in goes 3/4 cup of filtered water.
Apart from the really satisfying sound and the plume of sweet-smelling steam, this stage gets you tender middles. Stir every 20-30 seconds, returning the cubes to a single layer after each stir, but let them cook until ALL of the liquid evaporates.
Eat the other piece of “tax bacon” if the sweet smell gets to be too much for you. It’s ok. Nobody is going to spend the entire time in the kitchen with you, so I’m sure you will have a chance to grab it.
After the liquid is gone, I add back a teaspoon of grease or butter, swirl it all until it is glistening, again, and reduce the heat to med-low, to finish re-crisping the edges. You should notice, at this point, that every cube is uniformly darker in the middle of each side, as they are cooked fully through. Now, having rechecked to be sure the sauce has fully wilted the greens, I add the mushrooms into the onions, supplement with a few drops of oil or grease, and stir them together.
Final checks…. Onions and mushrooms get a few minutes to mingle, potato cubes dry yet cooked, sauce reduced a bit and greens wilted. Now, cheese goes into a bowl for easy grabbing, remaining bacon (really…there were 5 left. Honest.) gets crumbled and placed into a bowl, and my favorite pan for omelets gets a small sheen of grease and butter, and placed on medium heat, until the butter bubbles out it’s water content.
The cooking process goes quickly, especially when you are doing one-at-a-time for a family of 5, and flows like this:
Mix two eggs and 2 Tablespoons of Half and Half (or Sour Cream!).
Pour into heated and greased pan.
Let it go for 3-4 minutes, depending on how your stove interprets “medium”. Once there is a cooked outer edge, I swirl the more liquid middle a bit, to re-distribute it. When the middle starts to firm up, I give it light salt and pepper.
After another 30 seconds, or so, it gets flipped.
Add cheese on one half…
A line of the sauce…
Some potato cubes…
Some of the mushroom and onions…
And some crumbled bacon.
Count to 30, while cracking and mixing the eggs/dairy for the next one. Next, slide the omelette out onto a plate, folding the half that did not get filling over the side that did, then repeat the order of the “fillings” as “toppings.” What you end up with, hopefully, is appealingly presented, stuffed with good flavors and is nutritious for everyone.
I usually make the omelettes for the family, first. I think it goes back to my days of helping out chefs in the great kitchens of luxury hotels in so many places, and seeing the food go out the door long before anyone else got to stop.
Ok…it also means that I can gauge the right portions for each member of the family, making my omelette the “clean-up” portion…
I never said that the “Chef’s tax” was enough, did I?
Remember when I said that I sometimes like to do things a bit more complex? From beginning to end, this breakfast took an hour and forty-five minutes to deliver to the table (from bacon going into the pan until I sat down to eat my omelette). Time well spent, if you ask me.