It’s Sunday morning and I’m languishing in the carefree comfort zone of my bed. Ionah’s up and has bread in the oven and is en route to an impossibly early nine o clock yoga class. There’s a situation, she says; a favor to ask; a SNAFU: apparently I have thirty minutes and then — I have to get up. I gotta take the bread out of the oven. She pours me a cup of life affirming Assam tea, hands me the New York Times and leaves the flask. She sets the timer, places it by the bed, wishes me a loving goodbye and is out the door in a flash with her mat strung across her shoulder.
This could have ruined a lesser man’s day, but my cheery disposition got the better of me and as I looked at my options, I made a cold-hearted decision: I wrote off the review, the style section and the book review, and settled on the magazine for Sam Sifton’s one page take on a Jim Harrison recipe for a Caribbean stew — heavy on pork ribs, sausage and chicken thighs. I see myself hovering over an open fire cooking this concoction on the banks of the trout filled Gunnison river, perhaps within a few weeks — an over night trip, a mere five-hour drive from here.
From there, I made an easy switch to electronic media to look up Jim Harrison’s new memoir on food and eating— A Really Big Lunch— then with a couple of clicks I navigated to an essay from the New Yorker, by the chef Mario Batali — a remembrance, and a meal, on Jim Harrison.
The timer went off. I shut it down with a firm hand and got up with some effort. I took the bread out of the oven and made myself a chicken liver omelet.
The tools are basic: a bowl for the eggs, a fork to whisk, a rubber spatula to lift and form, a skillet to cook it in, a good knob of butter to throw in, a heat source to cook it on and a plate to put it on.
Crack a couple of eggs into the bowl and whisk them up and down, rather than in a circle — doing it this way gets a little air into the mix and makes the omelet lighter, or is it just my imagination?
Heat the skillet to medium high, throw in the butter, it should sizzle right away. Before it gets a chance to brown, swirl it around and immediately pour in the beaten eggs. Moving quickly, scrape the bowl with the spatula and add the remaining egg dregs. Shake the pan vigorously once or twice and then slide the spatula underneath the eggs and pull the mess to the center, tilting the pan and allowing the raw mixture to fall back around onto the exposed eggless area of the pan. Do the same on the other sides as necessary, until most of the raw mixture has found its way to the bottom of the pan. The whole operation should take no more than thirty seconds. This will yield a lightly cooked omelet with minimal or no browning.
If you’re using chicken livers, chop and sauté them in butter until medium rare, twist in some black pepper, a grate of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. A drop of sherry will do no harm. Have them standing by — pop them into the omelet and fold.
Or just use what’s around like a spring onion, diced mushroom and avocado.
Additional note — eat the omelet with the same fork as you used to whisk. Run the spatula through the tines, add the droplets to the omelette and wipe the fork with a sponge. No point in wasting a well raised egg. Did I say salt and pepper?