Clip | Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft - Learn Jacques Pépin’s famous omelet techniques

Jacques Pépin is perhaps best known for teaching America how to make an omelet. Here, he shares two different techniques for making this perfect egg dish.


Major funding for Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft is provided by Feast it Forward.

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Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

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If I had to judge how good technically a chef is, I probably would ask him to do an omelet.

It is difficult to make a real good omelet and there are different types of omelets.

I'm going to show you two types of omelets: a kind of country, French omelet, which is basically the way we do it in America, andthen a classic French omelet.

One is not better than the other, it's just a different technique, a different taste, a different look that you have in it.

In the first one - I'm doing an omelet with four eggs, here - In the first one, salt, a dash of pepper, all I'm going to do is to stir it well first and cook it so that I have fairly large curd of egg, and slightly brown all around, reaching the look and taste that we want to do country-like.

A little piece of butter there, and I have here a beautiful pan because that pan doesn't have any corners.

You see, it has a beautiful sway.

It is a non-stick pan, so it's ideal - it's an omelet pan, actually.

Now notice that my eggs, to start with, I have no pieces of egg white hanging, so it's not like you just stir the eggs back and forth - you have to go from one hand to the other to really break it so that you don't have any long pieces of egg white, otherwise you have those becoming white in the plate, in the skillet as it cooks.

So what we do here, in the country omelet, let it brown a little bit, see the eggs - the butter here - will be brown a little bit which in the classic omelet I don't want to brown.

So clean up your pan good, and here you don't have to worry too much.

You move it occasionally, to take the large curd like this, and those large curds replace them by liquid.

This will be totally different in the classic French omelet, where I move the mixture very very fast, as fast as I can, to have the smallest possible curd.

No browning at all, because the browning will toughen the albumin, and I want something very tender and very soft in a classic French omelet.

In the country style, it's different.

Now, how long do you cook it?

It's entirely up to you.

You can have it slightly wet in the center.

I like it a bit wet.

I would say that here my omelet is still a little bit wet here, which is the way I like it personally, but I would probably also brown it just a minute also.

Then kind of fold it in half like this.

I would, at that point, put maybe a little piece of extra butter if I want, in the bottom here to brown the bottom of my omelet.

And now I'm ready to invert the omelet.

This way here - you change hand, you grab the handle this way.

You bang it a little bit to make it slide,and you curl it upside down.

You have a nice beautifully browned omelet - this is a country omelet, but you can see fairly large curd and all this.

One way of doing it.

Now for the classic French omelet.

The technique is different.

First, clean up your plate - your skillet, rather.

Put it there.

I have a great amount of heat on that pan, and this is what I want for an omelet.

And as you see, it is a gas stove, and of course the gas is going to be much better than electric because you want to have the flame to go around, and a good stove should give you a great amount of it for an omelet as well as a very low setting - a simmer or something.

So here again I have four eggs, in that omelet this time, I put a little bit of chives, truly a classic omelet fines herbes - fines herbs omelet in France, you have chives, parsley, tarragon and chervil for the classic, butthis is just a chive omelet.

So you can see here that my pan is hot but I don't want it as hot as the other one.

So again we put it in there, and now, contrary to what I did before, just letting the eggs get into large curds, here with the bowl of the fork I want to bring this around and stir it up as fast as I can.

The smallest possible curd, and at the end of it, about at the end of it like now, I want to bring all of the mixture, I bring on this side as you can see basically everything is here - that is instead of having one layer which I roll like a carpet, everything is there.

Run my knife around, bring back the lip and you can see here I want to have a nice, half-moon shape.

Run this behind to bring back that lip.

Hit it there which as you can see brings it up, then push it down.

You want a nice corner, and you don't evenwant to brown it further.

This is the time, between the lips now that you would want to stuff it, if you have some type of stuffing.

We change hand again, bring that this way.

Next, bang it to have it to the edge of the pan, then invert it to have an omelet.

A classic omelet which should be white like this or pale yellow, just pointed at the end like this, smooth without any pleats.

This is what a classic French omelet is.

And you can see, quite different than that, and as I said before, one is not really necessarily better than the other.

It's a different technique and a different taste.

The curd are going to be much harder here, and if I cut this one open to show it to you, then you will see that the center of that omelet is very creamy and very soft and very nice, which is the way the classic omelet should be.