PHOTO: John D. Ivanko/
John D. Ivanko
May 14, 2014

When it comes to making fluffy omelet—like those served at restaurants when the chefs or cooks know what they’re doing—you’ll need to master a few techniques to create these airy packages to hold your favorite fillings. There’s no reason you can’t do the same in your farmstead kitchen.

Ray Reiss, owner of Ray’s Bucktown Bed-and-Breakfast, knows a great omelet. His B&B is tucked into a quiet side street in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, and his cooked-to-order breakfasts have wowed national and international clientele alike. Besides the omelets he prepares, some of his other signature dishes include B&B Pancakes (the B&B stands for blueberry and banana) and Green Eggs ’n’ Ham I Am (scrambled eggs with tomatoes, basil pesto (the green), ham, topped with grilled Asiago cheese).

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The whimsically named breakfast entrées pair well with the assorted collections of Red Wing Pottery or other collectibles found throughout the bed-and-breakfast. Ray’s omelets are just some of the many highlights for those staying at this 11-room inn, spanning two three-story brownstones dating back to 1885 and the 1930s, respectively. Our favorite room is the spacious Da Vinci Room; the bathroom has radiant floor-heat under the tumbled marble floor. After a day of exploring the city or filled with business meetings, relaxing in the complimentary sauna or steam room or kicking back with a book in one of the sitting areas of what was once Ray’s photography studio is a real treat.

As convivial a host as he is talented (he’s also a photographer and author), Ray holds dear what he calls “the truth about eggs” when making his omelets.

“The best eggs available, by far, no exceptions are eggs that are from true pasture-raised chickens—chickens that actually go out into the fields and eat a natural diet of bugs, grasses and seeds,” Ray says.

We agree, having once raised our own flock this way.

“Huge commercial growers can call their eggs ‘free range’ if the chickens are ‘allowed’ to go outside. In general, the only place you can get true pasture-raised chickens are from a local farmer,” Ray says. “Next best is organic-fed, cage-free. Organic anything is better, and from a humanity point of view, keeping an animal in a crowded cage its whole life simply cannot be good from whatever moral point you come from.”

After sampling Ray’s sumptuous breakfast on a recent visit, we managed to nudge him enough to share how he makes his light and fluffy omelets, over and over again, perfect every time. With Ray’s four steps below, now you can, too.

Recipe: Ray’s Bucktown Bed-and-Breakfast Fluffy Omelet

Step 1:

Start with the best eggs you can get. Mix with 1 tablespoon water for each egg. We make three-egg omelets, but lots of people ask for a two-egg omelet the next day. Mix the eggs briefly until they just start to foam. Do not over-mix.

Step 2:

We use an 8-inch non-stick pan. Heat the pan on medium-low heat; never use high heat, as it makes the eggs rubbery. Add butter to the pan, then the eggs. Using a spatula, bring the eggs in from the side, gently working your way around the pan. As the eggs are getting near set, you will need to gently tilt the pan to get the runny part to the outside of the pan as you push the cooked eggs away from the side.

Step 3:

Once the majority of the eggs are no longer runny (but still moist) put under a broiler in the oven until the eggs are totally set. You will notice the eggs starting to rise like a soufflé. Once the eggs are set, add your cheese overtop and put back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and has started to brown,

Step 4:

Shake the pan gently; the omelet should be loose. If any part is sticking, simply run your spatula around the outside edge. Gently fold over the omelet after you added your other favorite fillings into the center. Slide the completed omelet onto your serving plate.

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