This is the first part of Cooking the 'Complete Cookery Course', a new series of articles in which I will cook every recipe in Delia Smith's culinary classic book 'Delia's Complete Cookery Course'. This week, the first full recipe in the collection.
You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and you can't start a cook through 'Delia's Complete Cookery Course without making an omelette. An omelette savoyard specifically, the first recipe in the legendary cookbook.
(Serves 2 people)
1 dessertspoon olive oil
2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
3 rashers bacon, de-rinded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
50g Gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper
as she explains in the preamble, it is a French version of the Spanish 'tortilla' or Italian 'fritatta'. Omelette with potatoes, onions, cheese and bacon.
I have a pretty much hate-hate relationship with fritatta. As cooked by my step-dad, it was a killer combination of waxy, undercooked potato and slimy egg, finished off with stringy, limp bacon. The sort of thing that sent shivers down this young food lover's (read: fat kid) spine.
Delia seems to be with me on this one. She cooks her potatoes and bacon together before adding the egg. This crisps the bacon and infuses the potatoes with the bacon fat. Sounds promising. It also begins with both butter and olive oil in it, which can't be bad, and speaks loudly that this book was first published in less health conscious times. Excess fat was probably the only joy left in a world where Margaret Thatcher was only a year away from power.
1. Melt butter and oil together in a large pan
She's really not kidding when she says a big pan. I used my biggest frying pan, and it still was too small for the amount of potatoes and onions.
2. Dry potatoes in tea towel, and fry over medium heat for 10 minutes until golden
Revisiting these recipes from the 1970s, I was expected cooking times to be way exaggerated, explaining the hugely overcooked meals of my grandparents. Instead, I would actually cook them for 5 minutes longer at least or even cook them in an oven to dry them out even more.
3. Add bacon and onion to pan and cook for 10 more minutes, until onion is soft.
....see what I said about the pan not being big enough? Using an oven would free up some space, and you could even put the bacon in there too to get it really crisp. More time consuming, but really tasty.
4. Preheat grill
5. Grate cheese and put three quarters of it over the ingredients in the pan
If using an oven, add ingredients to pan before adding cheese.
6. Beat eggs and season with salt and pepper
Delia says to limit how much sat you put in because of the bacon, but she was obviously using better bacon than me because it came out hugely underseasoned. Also, I used blue cheese instead of gruyere to get rid of the last of the Christmas cheese. An interesting substitution, but not worth going to the shops specially for.
7. Add eggs to pan and cook for 90 seconds.
Delia has an impenetrable instruction here: "using a palette knife, draw the outside of the omelette inward, allowing the liquid egg to escape around the edges". i just tilted the pan a few times and it did the job
8. Sprinkle on rest of cheese, and put omelette pan under grill for a minute or so until top is set
Seriously, if you take one thing away from this, it's that flipping omelettes is a total waste of time. Not only is putting it under the grill worry-free, but the heat makes it easier to get the omelette out of the pan. Perfect omelettes every time.
9. Serve in wedges with green salad
Verdict: A pretty good omelette, albeit one that could have done with crispier bacon and potatoes. Mind you, it has cured my fear of frittata, which is basically miraculous. 3/5
Next week: The disturbing-sounding egg and lentil curry. Why would you make something so disgusting your second recipe in your cookbook. Find out next Tuesday...