This article titled “Nigel Slater’s tiny omelette and black-pudding frittata recipes” was written by Nigel Slater, for The Observer on Sunday 22nd January 2012 00.10 UTC Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer
I’m not sure my omelette pan is any such thing. A pan worthy of the name should probably be nonstick and have a totally smooth surface and gently curving sides. The pan in which I make mine is black steel, only nonstick because of the years of service it has given, regularly being wiped with kitchen roll rather than taking a ride in the dishwater, being used for not only omelettes and the odd frittata but for frying onions, sautéing the occasional piece of chicken or frying some fingerling-sized strips of bacon to add to a winter salad of chicory, shredded celery and roasted walnut halves. It’s as nonstick as Teflon.
Large enough to hold a chop, but only just, this is also a pan that regularly goes in the oven. A pot or pan whose handle won’t withstand 200C has no place in my kitchen. I’m not sure how long it has lived here, but I can’t remember a time when this small black pan wasn’t there.
An omelette is one of the few egg dishes I can enjoy. It does, however, have to be stacked up with a good few flavourings. One of my favourite additions to the lightly beaten eggs is a spoonful or two of ricotta or similar soft, fresh cheese. This makes the finished omelette more substantial yet keeps its quivering texture. To that, the additions can be as sparse as a few coriander or tarragon leaves, some rather finely hashed spring onions or maybe a little parsley (a plain parsley omelette served with a few slices of coppa or San Daniele can be a beautiful thing). Or we can get more complicated.
I have recently taken to making small omelettes the diameter of an espresso saucer, serving two or sometimes three per person. Rather than filling the pan in the normal way, I drop a small ladleful into the sizzling butter and let them form their own, often quite wacky shapes.
What you end up with are tiny free-form omelettes to eat as they are or with whatever you fancy. A favourite addition of mine is spicy sausage – chorizo will do nicely – chopped and fried with spring onion, some chilli flakes, garlic and a little soy. Another is chopped mushrooms fried in butter with a sliver of garlic and a few splashes of sherry vinegar. I keep the topping warm in its little frying pan, then spoon it over the omelettes once they are done. Of course I could make a larger version, spoon on the accompaniments then fold it over in the traditional style. But that way you lose the look of the filling, which is glossy with sherry vinegar or soy and, with a few shreds of spring onion on, very appetising.
The more I cook, the more I realise that if a piece of kitchen equipment works, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the correct one or not. Who is to say that a particular knife or pan is right for a certain job? What matters is that it works for us, that we are comfortable working with it, and that it works for the food, too. The crucial point is that we end up with something good to eat, and it really doesn’t matter how we get there.
Spring onion omelettes
Tiny free-form omelettes the size of a large biscuit. Let them form their own shape in the pan. Eat them as they are, or with the simple dressing below.
Serves 3, makes 6
eggs 4, beaten
spring onions 3
coriander leaves a handful
butter 20g, plus butter for cooking
For the dressing:
fish sauce 1 tbsp
lime juice 1 tbsp
soft brown sugar 2 tsp
red chilli chopped, to tastevginger grated, to taste
Mash the ricotta with a fork. Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the ricotta. Finely chop the spring onions, then mix with the coriander leaves. Fold them into the ricotta and egg mixture with a generous seasoning of salt and a little black pepper.
Warm the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to sizzle gently, pour a spoonful of mixture in and let it settle into a small pancake, about 6cm in diameter. Add as many others as you can comfortably fit in. Let them cook for a few minutes till lightly coloured on the underside then flip gently over and cook the other side for a minute.
Lift the pancakes out on to a warm plate and serve immediately.
Make a very simple dressing for the omelettes by mixing together the fish sauce, lime juice, soft brown sugar and a little red chilli and grated ginger to taste. Move the pungency and sweetness according to taste by adding more of the sugar and liquids as you think fit.
Frittata of black pudding
If black pudding is not your thing, then any well-seasoned sausage might be worth a try. This is light lunch in our house, with one omelette serving two and a decent salad on the side. Fennel and apple with a clean-tasting dressing of oil, cider vinegar and a few chives worked very nicely.
butter a large knob
black pudding 200g
parsley 2 heaped tbsp, roughly chopped
parmesan 50g, shavedv
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Remove the skin from the black pudding and crumble into the hot butter, leaving it to colour to a deep golden brown.
Break the eggs into a small bowl and mix them lightly with a fork. Roughly chop the parsley then stir into the eggs and pour over the cooked crumbled pudding. Add the parmesan. Heat an overhead grill. Let it cook over a relatively low heat till the bottom has formed a golden crust. The centre will probably still be wobbly. Lift the pan from the heat and slip it under the grill till the eggs have set and the top is lightly coloured. Cut into wedges and serve.
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