Wine Trail - Cook's Edition

Romesco, Manchego and Ibérico Omelette

The omelette. There are chefs who shudder at the word. The 'perfect' omelette must be made. A chef's most important first task, they say. With all the angst that is laid upon the endeavor, you might never even try. Yet, while not discounting the venture, listen to master chef José Andrés who says the perfect omelette doesn't exist, work with great ingredients and do your best. Then there are those who insist you mustn't have wine with eggs. To that we must turn to the irreverent and revered Julia Child who said "wine is essential with anything. Particularly omelettes for lunch". (We met her once, and as she autographed our stained Julia cookbook brought from home, she was, of course, holding a glass of wine.) We must agree and, with this recipe, we salute her.

Julia Child

Po-tay-toe or Po-tah-toe?

Just being silly. The question really is "omelet" or "omelette"? The first is more common in American English, while the latter is British English, as well as the modern French usage (where the omelette was born). Because we are indebted to Julia Child, the "French Chef", we're going to spell it omelette.

But, Just What is An Omelette?

The original french omelette is the beast that must be tamed.  It has a light outside while the inside in tender, much like scrambled eggs, soft and perhaps a little runny. If  there are to be additions to the inside, you have to go with a light hand. There is a fair amount of technique to get it right (involving moving the eggs, lightly scrambled around in the pan in a precise fashion and rolling it up in a cigar like shape).

This recipe might be thought of as a domesticated version, what is often called the diner omelette. Think of short order cooks tossing beaten eggs into a pan and shoveling on top all manner of conceivably western ingredients and yelling out, 'cowboy' up. Though you don't just want an overdone fried egg with 'stuff'', producing a good diner omelette with great ingredients is one of the easiest, and quite delicious, forays into exciting cusine.


Romesco sauce originated in Catalonia and is classically made with small dried chilies called ñora peppers (a sun-dried variety of the red bell pepper). Likely substitutes for the ñoras might include the following dried chilies: Anaheim, New Mexico, pasilla, ancho or cascabel (which are similarly shaped). Our recipe is adapted from one we found in In My Kitchen by television's Chopped host, Ted Allen. Like many others, he uses the more readily available jarred roasted red peppers. Within that category, he prefers the likely more expensive piquillo which is smaller, meatier, very flavorful and somewhat sweeter than the common red bell. Depending on the prices of peppers in your area, you certainly could also buy fresh red peppers and roast them yourself.

The Perfect Pan, Redux 

In 1989's The Way to Cook,  Julia Child reflected that for omelettes it was de rigueur to use a French steel (also known as "black steel") pan that needs special curing. Indeed, if properly cured it does make a great pan for eggs and many other things. We have talked about it at lengthTimes have changed and they are now readily available. They are wonderful pans and we use them constantly. Back in 1989 she instructed that for an omelette you should just use a good non-stick pan. We think she was absolutely right and that is exactly what we did here. We have reserved our own 10" Berndes non-stick pan, shown on the right next to a French steel pan, for nothing but eggs. 



roduced from black-hooved pigs on the Iberian Peninsula, Ibérico ham (jamón Ibérico) is salted and cured for up to 5 years, producing a highly prized, delicious and expensive delicacy. There are three grades, the finest being jamón ibérico de bellota, where the pigs roam oak forests eating only acorns. Next is jamón ibérico cebo de campo where the pigs will eat both acorns and grain. Finally,  jamón ibérico or jamón ibérico de cebo, where the pigs are fed only grain.

If you can't find or prefer not to use Ibérico ham, use any high quality ham. Serrano ham, prosciutto or pancetta, all thinly sliced, would be fine. Of course, these may also be harder to find and expensive. You can find many thinly sliced tasty ham products on the market which you might use. There is plenty of flavor in the rest of this dish to still make it a wonderful meal. And barring all that, if you don't want to use or can't find the ham or its substitutes, use anything that suits your fancy. When we were preparing this dish Ibérico wasn't in the cards, so we substituted with thinly sliced Spanish chorizo we had in the freezer. It worked perfectly well. We could envision a salami product or maybe even asparagus spears. Diner omelettes are wonderfully forgiving creations.

The Recipe (serves 2)

Romesco, Manchego and Ibérico Omelette

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1 slice bread cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, sliced, minced or smashed
Red pepper flakes to taste (start with a pinch)
1 canned, peeled whole tomato
1/4 cup drained jarred roasted red peppers (see above)
1 TB red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
5 large eggs
1 green onion (both green and white)
1/2 cup coarsely grated Spanish Manchego cheese
3 slices Ibérico ham or substitute (see above)

Pomegranate seeds to garnish (optional)
Bread of your choice (optional)

If you can only find untoasted pine nuts, you can do it yourself. The standard method of toasting them in a hot oven is tricky at best. They are expensive and burn easily.  As we have discussed, toasting in a paper bag in the microwave can be more effective. You can also just place them in a single layer on a heat proof plate (with no added ingredients) and, working very slowly until you figure out the power of your unit, toast them in the microwave. We usually start with about one minute and then work in increments of  30 seconds, moving them around each time. When the first one(s) starts to turn brown be forewarned.  They are going to burn pretty soon,  so stop and enjoy.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a 9" or 10" sauté non-stick pan. Add the pine nuts, almonds, bread, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic and bread are golden brown, perhaps 3 minutes. 

fry pine nuts, etc
Take the items you have just sautéd and put them in a food processor along with the tomato, roasted red peppers, vinegar and 1/4 tsp. Pulse until smooth. Add 1 to 3 TB water and a little more oil if the sauce is too thick to pour. Taste it and add more salt and/or red pepper flakes if you like.

Blend it
In a bowl, whisk the eggs together with a pinch of salt, then stir in the green onion. Over medium heat, gently, reheat the oil in the non-stick pan. Add a little more oil if needed. Slowly pour the eggs into the pan and cook. Use a spatula to loosen the edges and allow uncooked egg to run under. As soon as the bottom is set a bit sprinkle the Manchego Cheese evenly over the omelette. We like it to melt into the wet egg a bit. When the eggs are almost set place an even layer of ham on just one side of the eggs then cover the ham with about 1/4 cup of the romesco sauce. As soon as the non ham/romesco side is set enough, perhaps 2 or 3 minutes, use your spatula to fold it over the ham/romesco side. Cover the pan and cook over low heat until the ingredients are warmed through, perhaps about another minute. Covering the pan will reduce browning while holding in enough heat to finish the dish. You don't want your eggs to be overcooked.

Should you misjudge and try to fold the egg over a little too soon and it breaks/tears or otherwise misbehaves, don't fret. First off it will taste great (remember we want to avoid overcooked eggs) and secondly, you probably will be able to cover it up with the sauce, should that be an issue.

Eggs 1
Eggs 2
Eggs 3
Eggs 4
The way we did it: As we mentioned above, we have a special Berndes brand non-stick pan that we reserve just for eggs. It needs little to no butter or oil to be very "non-stick" and we aim to abuse it as little as possible. For that reason, we used a different pan to fry the pine nuts, almonds, bread, garlic and red pepper flakes. We rubbed a tiny bit of butter onto the Berndes and proceeded with the egg portion of the dish. As oil or butter aids in the transfer of heat more quickly, our technique that reduces fat can end up with a more browned and more cooked omelette, which technically you want to avoid. 

Cut the omelette in half and serve on two warmed plates with a large dollop of Romesco sauce on top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds (totally unnecessary, but we used them because we had them--tastes and looks wonderful). Serve with bread if desired. Enjoy the omelette for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or with a nice salad for dinner.  Definitely serve, as commanded by Julia, with a glass of wine!

Serve 1
Serve 2

Wine Pairing

Nalle Hopkins Pinot RoseNalle Winery
If you have taken advantage of Nalle's special Rosé offer, you are in luck. This natural old vine deep pink rosé is concentrated with aromas and flavors of ripe raspberries, bright cherries and classic Nalle complexity- refreshing and flavorfully round and a perfect way to take the Julia Child Challenge - a glass of wine with a really delicious omelette.
Nalle Winery Squirrels
We like to serve this wine well-chilled.  


   Get just the recipe in .pdf format here