Romesco, Manchego and Ibérico Omelette
he omelette. There
are chefs who shudder at the word. The 'perfect' omelette must be
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,
discounting the venture, listen to master chef José
Andrés who says the perfect omelette doesn't exist, work
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.
Po-tay-toe or Po-tah-toe?
ust being silly. The
question really is "omelet" or "omelette"? The first is more common in
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?T
he 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'
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.
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
by television's Chopped
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
n 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
have changed and they are now readily available. They are
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
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
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
ibérico de bellota,
where the pigs roam oak
forests eating only acorns. Next is jamón
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
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
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
1 TB red wine vinegar
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
The way we did it:
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!
f 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
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.
We like to serve this wine well-chilled.