Chef Tom’s Food and Cooking Column appears on page 13 of the Ace print edition. Text and Photos by Chef Tom.
What’s for dinner for Lent on Fridays?
by TOM YATES
Fridays during Lent can be tough. First, you have your what-I-gave-up-for Lent thing going on, which can be hard in its own right, if done, correctly. I have to avoid the chip aisle at the grocery now for 40 days, and look away from my favorite tiny sample bags of chips at check out. If I see them, the back of my mouth aches and I salivate. There are no fainting couches at Kroger check-out lanes, so I have to look away and pretend they are not there.
Fridays are another matter.
Sounds innocent enough, although I work in a restaurant and there is meat everywhere. Last year, I failed my solemn Lenten vows by tasting innocent food nibbles that area purveyors had brought in for samples. Buttery-hot and sticky chicken wings? Why, of course. Porterhouse steak, perfectly char-grilled to medium rare with a pat of maitre’ d butter? Why yes, I’ll have a bite of that. It was ridiculous. I was in confirmation class, no less, trying to follow all the rules leading up to the Great Easter Vigil…..and my confirmation by the Bishop.
Taken down by a chicken wing. Sackcloth. Heavy boots.
So far, this year has been better. One down. I was looking through Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home for inspiration and found this beautiful recipe for grilled asparagus with butter-toasted croutons, topped with poached eggs. It didn’t seem substantial enough. Not meaty enough.
We opted for omelettes with home fries. I make a pretty mean omelette. Not the fancy ones I learned in school. Not the ones that Julia Child jiggled about in a saute’ pan until they magically formed into naturally and perfectly turned out omelettes. Mine are the working man’s omelette. Big, fluffy egg vessels, full of mouthwatering cheese-dripping goodness.
I have a gorgeous pan used only for omelette making. It is used for nothing else.
I bring the eggs to room temperature, season them with freshly grated nutmeg, and whip them with water. Not milk. Milk can make them tough.
(If I have chives growing out back, I’ll mince them finely and add them to the eggs.)
After the butter begins sizzling in the pan, I add the eggs and push the sides toward the center, tilting the pan to let the eggs flow underneath. When almost cooked through, I add the ingredients, top with a lid to melt, and roll the omelette onto a plate.
I filled them with fire-roasted yellow, green, and red bell peppers, aged white cheddar, reggiano, diced roma tomatoes, and sour cream. The sour cream bumps up the creaminess of the eggs and provides a fresh cool acidity. Really fantastic.
I must admit, a few slices of thick-cut maple brown sugar-roasted bacon would have been a nice touch.
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Chef Tom’s Food and Cooking Column appears on page 13 of the Ace Weekly print edition. Text and Photos by Chef Tom.