There is no dish which may be considered as coming under the denomination of a made dish of the second order, which is so generally eaten, if good, as an omelet; and no one is so often badly dressed: it is a very faithful assistant in the construction of a dinner.
When you are taken by surprise, and wish to make an appearance beyond what is provided for the every-day dinner, a little portable soup melted down, and some zest and a few vegetables, will make a good broth; a pot of stewed veal wanned up; an omelet; and some apple or lemon fritters, can all be got ready at ten minutes notice, and with the original foundation of a leg of mutton, or a piece of beef, will make up a very good dinner when company unexpectedly arrives, in the country.
The great merit of an omelet is, that it should not be greasy, burnt, nor too much done: if too much of the white of the eggs is left in, no art can prevent its being hard, if it is done: to dress the omelet, the fire should not be too hot, as it is an object to have the whole substance heated, without much browning the outside.
One of the great errors in cooking an omelet is, that it is too thin; consequently, instead of feeling full and moist in the mouth, the substance presented is little better than a piece of fried leather: to get the omelet thick is one of the great objects. With respect to the flavors to be introduced, these are infinite; that which is most common, however, is the best, viz. finely chopped parsley, and chives or onions, or eschalots: however, one made of a mixture of tarragon, chervil, and parsley, is a very delicate variety, omitting or adding the onion or chives. Of the meat flavors, the veal kidney is the most delicate, and is the most admired by the French: this should be cut in dice, and should be dressed (boiled) before it is added; in the same manner, ham and anchovies, shred small, or tongue, will make a very delicately flavored dish.
The objection to an omelet is, that it is too rich, which makes it advisable to eat but a small quantity. An addition of some finely mashed potatoes, about two table-spoonfuls, to an omelet of six eggs, will much lighten it.
Omelets are often served with rich gravy; but, as a general principle, no substance which has been fried should he served in gravy, but accompanied by it, or what ought to eat dry and crisp, becomes soddened and flat.
In the compounding the gravy, great care should be taken that the flavor does not overcome that of the omelet, a thing too little attended to: a fine gravy, with a flavoring of sweet herbs and onions, we think the best; some add a few drops of tarragon vinegar; but this is to be done only with great cure: gravies to omelets are in general thickened: this should never be done with flour; potato starch, or arrow-root, is the best.
Omelets should he fried in a small frying-pan made for that purpose, with a small quantity of butter. The omelet's great merit is to be thick, so as not to taste of the outside; therefore use only half the number of whites that you do yolks of eggs: every care must be taken in flying, even at the risk of not having it quite set in the middle: an omelet, which has so much vogue abroad, is here, in general, a thin doubled-up piece of leather, and harder than soft leather sometimes. The fact is, that as much care must be bestowed on the flyings as should be taken in poaching an egg. A salamander is necessary to those who will have the top brown; but the kitchen shovel may be substituted for it.
The following' receipt is the basis of all omelets, of which you may make an endless variety, by taking, instead of the parsley and eschalot, a portion of sweet herbs, or any of the articles used for making forcemeats, or any of the forcemeats.
Omelets are called by the name of what is added to flavor them: a ham or tongue omelet; an anchovy, or veal kidney omelet, etc.: these are prepared exactly in the same way as in the first receipt, leaving out the parsley and eschalot, and mincing the ham or kidney very fine, etc, and adding that in the place of them, and then pour over them all sorts of thickened gravies, sauces, etc.