The Denver Omelet
The story goes like this: A popular lunch place in the Rockies called The Denver Cafe (ironically not in Denver) was closing their doors after a huge lunch shift one day. They were about to go home when a group of tired and hungry skiers knocked on the windows, begging for food. Well, the chef wasn’t going to just let them starve so he re-opened his doors. The only problem: He was pretty much out of food. The only thing he had was some eggs, peppers, ham, and cheese.
So he whipped it all together in an omelet and the rest is history.
Ok. So I made that up, but I imagine that’s how the Denver omelet probably started. In reality I have no idea who came up with it or why it’s named after The Mile High City. Whatever. I know it’s delicious and what else do you need to know?!
If there’s one thing that an aspiring home cook should learn how to make, it’s an omelet. They are very versatile and once you get the hang of them, you can feed a crowd very quickly. I’ve made a griddle omelet before on Macheesmo which is a bit of a different creature. This is a more traditional omelet and has some of my favorite fillings.
The Denver Omelet
Yield: 2 large omelets.
4 large eggs, mixed with a dash of milk. Keep them separate (2 and 2) so you end up with even omelets
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 ounces thick cut ham, diced
1/4 white onion, diced
A few button mushrooms, diced
4 ounces cheddar cheese
Butter or clarified butter for cooking
8 inch omelet pan (This is the one I have and love but you can use any nonstick pan really.)
1) Prepare and chop all your veggies and ham. Grate the cheese.
2) Add the diced ham to a pan with a drizzle of oil and cook until it's lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.
3) Add the other veggies for the filling and cook for another 1-2 minutes just to get them slightly soft and warm.
4) Add a teaspoon of butter or clarified butter to your omelet pan over medium-high heat. Once it's melted add your eggs (2 per omelet).
5) The eggs will start cooking quickly. Use a flat spatula to gently move the cooked eggs to the center of the pan and tilt the pan to let the uncooked eggs run outside and cook. It won't take long to have your eggs mostly cooked.
6) Add filling and grated cheese to one half of your omelet and gently fold the eggs over.
7) Add a few drops of water to your pan and slide a large plate over the top of the omelet pan. This will steam your omelet which will finish cooking it and also melt the cheese perfectly. Let it steam for 30-45 seconds.
8) Slide the omelet onto a plate and serve immediately.
Making the omelet
I’m going to do my best to describe this in photos in case you’ve never made an omelet before, but this is reason number 47 why I think I need to start incorporating the occasional video on Macheesmo. There’s some subtle things that happen during the omelet making that are tough to describe with photos.
Before we get there though, the filling is pretty straightforward. And yes, I stuff all of this into two omelets, but I like mine really stuffed. Basically, I just shoot for equal parts ham, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
I’m a big fan of pre-cooking my filling for just a few minutes to get it softened just a tiny bit. You don’t want the veggies soggy, but you don’t want them raw either.
Start with a tablespoon of neutral oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add your diced ham. Cook that for a few minutes until it is starting to brown nicely.
Then add all your other veggies. Since everything should be roughly diced the same size it will cook more or less the same. Add a cook pinch of salt and pepper and let your filling cook for another minute or two. Again, don’t over cook these guys.
This is about perfect.
There’s nothing better than a nice cup of French Press coffee on a weekend while making a good hearty breakfast. Betsy and I have gotten so used to using our French Press I’m not even sure where our drip coffee maker actually is. If you’re in the market for some good coffee, The Bodum French Press is my favorite. I’ve used mine for years now.
Back to Omelets
Ok. Sorry for the detour. Coffee is important though.
If you happen to have some clarified butter around, it’s perfect for omelets. This is the same clarified butter I made months ago. It keeps for a very long time in the fridge once it’s clarified.
It’s probably not worth making clarified butter for just this dish though so use normal butter if you don’t have some.
Add about 1 Teaspoon of butter or clarified butter to your non-stick omelet pan and put it over medium-high heat. Once the butter is hot, add your whisked eggs! They should start cooking immediately. Using a small spatula, start pushing the cooked eggs to the center and letting the uncooked eggs leak out to the outside of the pan.
You’ll have to tilt the pan as you go to get the liquid egg to move to the outside of the pan.
After about 45 seconds, most of your egg should be cooked. There might be a very thin layer of uncooked egg right on top, but that’s good actually. Just leave it for now. It’ll cook as we finish our omelet.
Next, pile on your fillings and cheese! I like to do a layer of cheese, then filling, then more cheese.
Then attempt to fold the omelet over. It probably won’t cover all the filling. That’s cool though. Just get it as close as you can. Work quickly people.
The trick to being able to really stuff an omelet is at the very end you steam it for a few seconds to seal everything together.
I just add a few drops of water to the pan and then cover the pan with a plate that fits. I happen to have one that fits my omelet pan perfectly. (This has the bonus benefit of heating up your plate!)
After about 15-20 seconds of steaming your omelet will be cooked and the cheese will be melted and everything will be happy.
To get the omelet out of the pan, don’t try to pick it up. Just move the pan to the plate and gently slide it off the pan and onto the plate. If you’re really good, you can slightly roll the omelet so that the filling is completely covered. Again, this is where video would rock.
I like to garnish mine with some chives, salt, pepper, and sometimes a dash of hot sauce.
I have no idea who invented this omelet or how it got its name, but I do know that it’s one of my favorite omelet fillings of all time.
What I really want to know is… Did that make sense?? Video??