Christopher Kimball: You know, the one ingredient in our great French omelet recipe that’s always bothered me is the frozen butter. I’m a lazy cook. I have to do a little bit of advance planning to freeze the butter. And the question is whether you really need to freeze the butter, and why is it so important? [turns to Guy]
Guy Crosby: Chris, absolutely it is important. Frozen butter is the whole difference between making a creamy omelet and one that’s rubbery. In raw eggs, the proteins in the eggs are all coiled up in a ball [gesticulates with hands]. And let’s use the spaghetti [camera cuts to plate of balled-up noodles; CPK wiggles the cooked pasta slightly] to visualize what the proteins look like. [points to first plate] Here we’ve got protein in a raw egg, all coiled up. And when the protein starts to cook and heat and you’re cooking the omelet, it starts to unravel, just like this plate. [camera pans to second plate with flat-lying noodles] You want the butter to melt at the same time the proteins are unraveling. And if we use melted butter, it’s just going to run off and pool away, whereas if we use frozen butter, it’s not going to melt until the protein starts to unravel. So what we can do–and maybe you want to try this–is use the spaghetti sauce like butter. [CPK begins ladling red sauce on the first plate of pasta] Put that on there, and let’s see what happens to it.
CPK: So the question is, does it go down into it? [dives in with fork and knife] Is that the question?
GC: Right, exactly. Does it really coat all the protein?
CPK: [slices the balled-up pasta in half, down the middle, to expose the bare cross-section] So the answer is it doesn’t get inside. [ladles sauce on second plate with flat noodles] And this one obviously coats it all. It does.
GC: See, when butter coats the protein, it prevents the proteins from interacting with themselves. And when they interact, they get tough and rubbery. And here I’ve got an example. [gestures to third plate with a long, flat tangle of pasta] Here again is spaghetti that doesn’t have any butter on it. And you know cold spaghetti gets really sticky and tough. [poking with two forks] It’s hanging together. [gestures to fourth plate of pasta] But here is spaghetti that has butter that’s been coated on it, and it doesn’t stick together. [lifting individual strands with two forks] So the butter is doing the same thing with the protein in the omelet. [puts down forks with a slight clatter] It prevents the proteins from coming together and forming this rubbery texture.
CPK: [waving finger in an “a-ha” motion] So the short answer is yes, you need cold butter. That way it melts at the same rate the proteins unwind. And that way all the proteins get coated, and you get a tender omelet [GC nods knowingly] instead of a tough one.
View the full recipe for Perfect French Omelets
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH
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