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Cheatin’ Omelettes and Apple Wine Mimosas

It’s been a while since I last wrote about breakfast, and that’s unfortunate because it’s my favorite meal of the day. Don’t get me wrong — I love a home-cooked, delicious dinner, but there’s always been something about a good, hearty breakfast to start off the day that makes me happy. Plus it’s a lazy Saturday, and it just so happens that I have some leftover green bell pepper and sausage patties in the fridge. Add some some fresh eggs, milk, and one last orange … what’s that spell?

Yup, that’s right: omelettes.

Now, I’ll be honest here. I can’t really make omelettes. Which is to say I’ve never been able to flip them. I’ve tried for years, and what I’ve come to understand is that I possess some sort of genetic defect that makes me physically incapable of flipping an omelette in its pan. I’ve made some epic messes; someone once suggested to me that a good way to practice is to fill a skillet full of pennies and flip that, but I think he was just trying to get me to spill loose change all over the floor. That’s all that happened to me, anyway.

So I can’t flip omelettes. I’ve learned a variety of ways to cheat over the years, though, to cook them without any acrobatic effects. It might not look as cool, but it’s just as delicious in the end. And so here we go: cheatin’ omelettes.

I’ll start with the bell pepper and orange. I slice the pepper up into little bits, each about the size of my pinkie nail. Then I slice the orange into eight quarters and set two of them aside.

Fresh green pepper is one of my favorite omelette ingredients. Next to fresh sausage, of course.

I also find, in my pantry, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. To be honest, I’m not sure how long they’ve been there. I don’t use them very much (I’m not much of a tomato fan), but it takes a while for these suckers to go bad and I think they’ll add some nice flavor. I don’t want to overdo it, though, so I fork out only two of them and cut them up into bits smaller than the pepper.

Mushrooms would also be a good possibility here, too. If you like them, I mean. Ugh, fungus.

Now it’s onto the meat. I have three patties left that I cooked up a few mornings ago from a batch of Crabill’s Meats sausage (some of the best sausage you can buy in the Shenandoah Valley, and that’s saying something). I slice each patty up into bits about the same size as the pepper …

You have not eaten finer sausage than Crabill's.

… and then it’s onto the eggs. I want to end up with two reasonably sized omelettes here, so I take five and crack them into a bowl. These eggs, incidentally, come from Chrysalis Vineyards — they raise pastured chickens there, and if you haven’t ever tried eggs from a truly free-range chicken (and here’s a scary hint: the words “free range” on that supermarket egg carton probably don’t mean what you think they do), do yourself a favor and find a farm market nearby. To the eggs, I add a few tablespoons of milk, some hearty dashes of Tabasco, and the juice from those two orange slices I set aside. Be sure to use a strainer when you squeeze the orange slices unless you like fishing out seeds from your eggs. Then whisk it all with a fork until the color is even all the way through.

Truly free-range chickens will produce very brightly colored yolk.

With all the ingredients assembled, it’s time to break out the skillet. I start by heating a few sprinkles of olive oil over low-medium heat.

Making an omelette is like cooking in a wok: it's a good idea to have everything ready before you start.

The green pepper goes in first. Stirring frequently with my spatula, I cook them until they start to smell crisp and delicious and they feel just a tiny bit soft to the touch.

I love the smell of green pepper in a skillet.

Then I pour in the sausage. Keep stirring until the bits are just slightly warm to the touch. It won’t take long.

Sometimes I can resist the temptation of snacking on the sausage while it heats, but not this time.

Then it’s the tomatoes’ turn.

Red and green: It's like Christmas with sausage mixed in.

These take almost no time at all. Just stir them around for a minute or so with the peppers and sausage; don’t let them start to burn. At this point, it’s time to add the eggs. Pour slowly! It’s important to cover the entire skillet.

I usually pour around the outside edge first and then fill in as I go.

Here’s where the cheatin’ part begins. A gifted chef would cook until the eggs had more or less hardened on the bottom, then flip this whole mess over to get the top side. Since I don’t feel like cleaning up another disaster, what I’m going to do is reduce the heat just slightly — maybe a notch or so. I’m going to keep stirring everything with my spatula until it all starts to congeal. Eventually, it will harden enough so that all the ingredients are held in place on their own.

Mmmm...gloppy eggs.

At this point, stop stirring with the spatula and, instead, start (gently) turning the eggs over on top of themselves. Just little sections at a time — you don’t need to do the whole thing at once. Your goal here is to speed along the thickening process without breaking up the mass. It won’t be too long before it’s all hardened to the point that you can use the spatula’s blade to neatly separate the egg mass into two roughly equal chunks…

It's beginning to look a lot like omelette...

… which you can then flip with the spatula …

Wham! No fancy wristwork needed.

… and then sprinkle on some cheese.

I wish I could say it was fresh cheese, but no. This is pure Kraft.

Of course, no weekend breakfast is complete without mimosas. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Champagne in the house. What I do have downstairs in my cellar, though, is a bottle of Chateau O’Brien’s yummy apple wine. So while the omelettes finish cooking on the stove, I run to fetch the bottle.

It's like apple juice, but a whole lot better.

What I love about this wine, which is made from apples grown at the winery’s next-door neighbor, Northpoint Orchards, is that unlike many apple wines (and fruit wines in general) this wine is much more crisp than it is sweet. It doesn’t taste at all like Champagne, certainly, but that apple crispness when mixed with orange juice creates an effect similar to that of a traditional mimosa. Which is to say, it’s delicious. I like to use a half-and-half blend, but you can certainly adjust according to taste. And, uh, desired impact.

Now *this* is how you start a morning.

And, with the omelettes finished and the mimosas poured, breakfast is served!

That's not breakfast. That's plated delicious.

So there you go — cheatin’ omelettes. Enjoy!


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