Voted fourth in Zagat’s 30 Most Exciting Food Cities 2017, Denver, Colorado is a great location for foodies. Its large Mexican-American community has a vibrant New Mexican culinary scene and is known for its green chilli stalls, empanadas, chiles rellenos, and tamales. There are also several Chinese hot pot (huo guo) and Korean BBQ restaurants, courtesy of the city’s Chinese and Asian-American populations.
The Mile-High City even has two dishes that take its name - the Denver sandwich, and its derivative, the Denver omelet. A Denver omelet is an omelet made with onion, green pepper, ham, and usually cheese, while a Denver sandwich is simply a Denver omelet served between two slices of bread. They are alternatively known as the western sandwich and western omelet, or the southwestern sandwich and southwestern omelet.
There are several origin stories for these perennial favourites, the first being that early settlers, unable to waste food, used strong flavours like onion and pepper to mask the taste of less-than-fresh eggs. In some versions of the story, the eggs were shipped in from the east, and were already going stale by the time they arrived.
The more commonly-accepted version of events, proposed by food writers James Beard and Evan Jones, is that the Denver sandwich preceded the Denver omelet, and was created by the Chinese chefs who worked on the transcontinental railroad. Using leftover vegetables and an adaptation of egg foo yung, a popular dish from the Guangdong province of China, they produced a cheap and filling sandwich capable of satisfying hungry section crews. As the Denver sandwich grew in popularity, restaurants began serving the dish, and with the need for portability no longer an issue, the Denver omelet was born.
Steps and Ingredients
The Denver omelet is surely one of the city’s best-loved contributions to US cuisine. Adaptable, filling and tasty, it can be made in a few simple steps, and is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
If you want to make your own Denver omelet at home, try this delicious and easy-to-follow recipe. The classic recipe is made with onion, pepper, ham and cheese, but you can experiment with your favourite ingredients to make your very own personalised omelet.
To make a Denver Omelet you will need:
8 large, free range eggs
½ cup half and half cream, or milk
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup chopped deli ham
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced green pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
A drop of oil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Take a skillet and cook the onions and green pepper until slightly caramelised, then set aside.
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the half-and-half cream, and whisk together until combined.
Add the rest of the ingredients and give it all a quick stir.
Grease a baking pan, and pour in the omelet mixture.
Bake until golden brown (approximately 20 - 25 minutes)
According to French chef and TV favourite Jacques Pépin, the best way to judge a chef’s skill is to watch them cook an omelet. His demonstration takes omelet-making back to the basics, showing how to make two popular omelet types - a perfectly browned Country French Omelet, and a delicate, Classic French Omelet with a light creamy center - using only eggs, butter and a sprinkling of herbs.
David Kinch, champion of sustainable cooking and chef-patron of three-Michelin-starred Manresa, advises waiting until your eggs are room temperature before using them, and adds a touch of water to help break them up. Like Pépin, he chooses to whisk the eggs with a fork, and shows how to shake the skillet and scramble the eggs to break up the egg white.
UK-based French chef Pierre Kauffman, whose three-Michelin-starred restaurant La Tante Claire was the training-ground for other culinary greats such as Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, also shows how to agitate the skillet to break up the eggs, but unlike his fellow chefs, he adds a pinch of salt and pepper beforehand. We think the large quantities of butter added are an in-joke with his Danish audience - a reference to the world-renowned Danish butter - so maybe go easy on the butter in your own kitchen.
Now you’ve learned the basics, it's time to try something a little more advanced, not to mention decadent. Watch NY culinary legend, and yet another Michelin-starred French chef, Daniel Boulud, show you how to make an Omelette Farcie. Made with smoked salmon and caviar, this is surely the ultimate luxury breakfast.
If you need ideas for omelet fillings, try this oven-baked omelet from multi-Michelin-starred chef and TV star, Gordon Ramsey. Filled with chopped tomatoes, juicy prawns and crumbled feta, this vibrant dish is perfect for a quick lunch, or brunch with friends.
Finally, for an omelet with real Michelin-star pedigree, watch Swedish chef Mikael Jonsson prepare a Perigord truffle omelet from the kitchens of his Michelin-starred London Restaurant, Hedone. Jonsson uses duck eggs to make his omelet, along with watercress, cheese, and black Perigord truffles prepared four ways.
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