It's now standard practice for the world's top chefs and restaurants to make themselves available to home cooks. A trend that the pandemic only fast-tracked that has seen René Redzepi serve burgers at his restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Massimo Bottura make mac and cheese for a free online cooking class, and the team behind Carbone sell jarred pasta sauces at supermarkets.
But a decade ago, when Ferran Adrià debuted "The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià," it was nothing short of sensational. At his restaurant El Bulli in Roses, Spain, such dishes as the "liquid olive" (olive juice transmogrified into a green fruit that popped in your mouth) and transparent "vanishing ravioli," garnered him recognition as the world's best chef. El Bulli closed in 2011 after winning all the awards out there; the location is in the process of being turned into a museum that preserves the legacy of his restaurant and promotes creativity. Concurrently, he has started a book series on the origins of cooking.
A 10th anniversary edition of "The Family Meal" (Phaidon; $30) was released April 7 to remind us that for all the accolades, the world's most avant-garde chef is also adept at preparing the simplest of dishes, from gazpacho to rice pudding.
The reissued cookbook contains a new introduction from Adrià, but the recipes are unchanged, as is the format. Dishes are divided into meals — melon with cured ham is followed by rice with duck and chocolate cake — that also include shopping lists, a preparation timeline, and old school-looking step-by-step pictures.
Even if the format is "Ferran Adrià goes to the supermarket," his wild ingenuity breaks through occasionally. Consider his dessert of watermelon sprinkled with crushed menthol candies or his three-ingredient potato chip omelet. Even salt is rendered unnecessary by the chips, which are folded into the beaten egg to soften slightly before cooking.
The result, especially if you're adept at folding a cooked omelet over to hide the filling, is a surprise of chips that infuse the eggs with potato flavor while adding a fun chewy, starchy bite. Imagine the best forkful of eggs with hash browns, yet melded more perfectly together. Plus, it's simply a fun dish, especially for those who know that the omelet was historically the test of a great chef in classic restaurants.
He recommends using the freshest eggs you can get and top-of-the-line chips and oil. "I make it with potato chips that have extra-virgin olive oil of the best quality," he advised.
Well-salted chips are key to this equation — don't underestimate the power of a plain, salted specimen, though sour cream and onion are always crowd-pleasers. If you want to experiment with something like the South Korean cult favorite honey butter chips, you will need to add salt; you might want to have some seasoning handy, anyway. Thickness counts, too: Ridged-chips such as Ruffles or kettle-cooked give a slightly firmer bite. For reference, a small bag of chips is generally 1 ½ ounces. Although the chip quantity need not be precise, you shouldn't add more; err on the side of too little if you're not weighing. Using a good nonstick skillet will make inverting the omelet dead easy.
Potato Chip Omelet
- 6 eggs
- 2 ¾ ounces salted potato chips
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided use
In a bowl, beat the eggs with a balloon whisk until very frothy. Add the potato chips — taking care not to break them up — and let them soak for 1 minute, gently pushing them into the eggs.
Place a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the egg mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Use the spatula to loosen the sides of the omelet from the edge of the pan. After 40 to 60 seconds, when the bottom of the omelet has set, cover the omelet with a plate. Holding onto the pan with one hand, carefully turn the pan over so the omelet slides onto the plate. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Slide the omelet from the plate into the pan and cook the uncooked side for 20 to 30 seconds more. Transfer to a plate, cut in half, and serve.
Makes 2 servings.
Recipe adapted from "The Family Meal" by Ferran Adrià (Phaidon; $30)