Even if you haven’t worked in a restaurant, the concept of family meal may be familiar: It’s the act of cobbling together a meal that salvages or repurposes ingredients to resourcefully feed a restaurant’s staff before service, and, ideally, to connect them at the table.
The frugality of this kind of meal can be thrilling — it’s a marriage of hospitality and practicality — and it exemplifies how many Americans are preparing food right now, as many home cooks have leaned into making focaccia, growing victory gardens and stretching staple ingredients.
Despite pioneering lavish modernist cuisine at El Bulli restaurant in Spain, chef Ferran Adria’s cookbook “The Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adria” (Phaidon, 2011, $39.95) embraces restraint. In it, Adria explored the dishes he created alongside Eugeni de Diego, a head chef at the restaurant, to serve the staff. The book tackles approachable meals using limited ingredient lists, a topic not often associated with Michelin-starred restaurants, but one that is ever popular with home cooks — and practiced now with renewed fervor.
The simplicity of this omelet is its charm: Using just eggs, potato chips and olive oil, it evokes the flavors of a labor- intensive Tortilla Espanola — egg and potato omelet — but takes only minutes to assemble and cook.
Adria encourages cooks to use the best-quality potato chips and eggs available, but the recipe works with any chips, even flavored ones. The execution may take some practice, but it’s straightforward: Whisk eggs until light and aerated, fold in the chips until slightly softened, then cook in a slick of olive oil in a nonstick skillet.
The only challenge is the flip. You’ll want to turn the omelet the second it starts to set underneath. You may fret about the loose, glistening, alarmingly uncooked egg mixture on top. Have some faith, turn the omelet onto a plate, twist your wrists without hesitation, then just slide the omelet back onto the skillet to finish cooking. (Everything will be fine — and the thrill of the flip is part of the dish’s delight.)
You could opt to add some finely sliced chives, a pinch of piment d’Espelette (French chili pepper powder) or paprika, a handful of grated manchego or any other cheese you have on hand, or serve the omelet alongside salad or charcuterie. But any addition is purely extraneous. Textural, salty and rich beyond expectation, the potato chip omelet needs nothing else.
Spurred by necessity but inspired by ingenuity, it’s the type of food just right for this moment, and a small victory however you enjoy it.
FERRAN ANDRIA’S POTATO CHIP OMELET
- 12 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 6 ounces potato chips (about 6 cups)
- Kosher salt and black pepper, for serving (optional)
Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until frothy and lightened in color, about 4 minutes. (If you have a balloon whisk, now is the time to use it: It will aerate better than a standard whisk with half the time and effort. Either way, your arm will burn, but a fluffy, puffy omelet will be your reward.)
Add 1 tablespoon oil to a 10-inch nonstick skillet and heat over medium.
Add chips to eggs. Gently fold a few times to ensure chips are coated. Let chips soak 1 minute.
Pour mixture into skillet, using spatula to spread potatoes into an even layer, then to loosen omelet from sides of pan.
After bottom is just about set, 3 to 4 minutes, cover omelet with an upside-down plate. Holding one hand flat against the plate and holding skillet by its handle, gently flip omelet to release it onto the plate.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, then carefully slide omelet from the plate, uncooked-side-down, into pan and cook about 2 minutes. Slide omelet onto a plate, slice and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Nutritional information unavailable.