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 has seen Rene Redzepi serve burgers at Noma in Copenhagen, Massimo Bottura make mac and cheese for a free online cooking class, and the team behind Carbone start selling 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 what Adrià calls “musealización” (being turned into a museum) that both preserves the legacy of his restaurant and promotes creativity. Concurrently, he’s started a book series on the origins of cooking.
A 10th anniversary edition of “The Family Meal” (Phaidon; $30) will come out on 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. Along with the four basic taste sensations (salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), we perceive “a series of nuances … among these nuances is menthol, which gives the palate a feeling of freshness,” he writes in the book. (He also advises anyone with a sous vide machine to use it to infuse the watermelon with the lemon syrup.)
A more brilliant innovation is 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.
“It came to my mind thinking about the cheese omelet. If we did not do the cheese, why not try using potato chips?” said Adrià, in an email. He’s an enduring fan of the recipe. “I normally cook it once a week.”
Because the ingredient list is so short, 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.
Innovators inspired by Adrià’s creativity should be advised that 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.
You can also serve the omelet with your favorite egg accoutrements: hot sauce, bacon, grated cheese. Before you add any, take a bite of Adrià’s omelet as it is and revel in its simple genius.
The following recipe is from Ferran Adrià’s “The Family Meal.”
Potato chip omelet
6 large eggs
2¾ ounces salted potato chips
1½ 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 longer. Transfer to a plate, cut in half, and serve.
Note: For reference, a small bag of chips is generally 1½ 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.
Makes 2 servings.
— From Ferran Adrià’s “The Family Meal.”