I’ve admired these skillets (there are three of them where I am staying) since I arrived in France. And after I cooked with one, I had a serious case of pan-envy. So much so that despite having only a small roller-board suitcase (technically it’s carry-on size) I bought myself one to bring home.
These are not any old pans. They are made by Aubecq, a French company that has been in business since 1917.
This is my first ceramic coated non-stick pan. I’ve read the pros and cons. They are safer from a health-perspective and more environmentally friendly than Teflon and other non-stick pans but also comparatively expensive and according to numerous online reviews – the coating on many of these pans does not last well. I decided to give the pans a try. I think the deciding factor was the colour – a cheerful frog green.
They really are the colour of frogs!
One of my favourite meals this trip to France was a wild leek omelette, cooked in one of the much admired skillets.
I loved it because I think there is something so joyful in foraging for food. Isabel Huggan, my hostess in France, let me take over her kitchen for the night. She showed me how to find and dig up the wild leeks properly, including replanting the tiny leek bulbs (known as bulbils) attached to the base of the plant, and then she left me alone to do my own thing. We had the omelette along with a salad of greens including dandelion leaves, fresh local asparagus and a glass of local white wine.
The omelette was wonderful – a perfect ‘crust’ – but soft and melty inside. I attribute its success at least in part to the skillet. But also of course, to the wild leeks which were harvested only an hour earlier.
For the record, French wild leeks, Allium polyanthum, are not the same species as their North American cousins, Allium tricoccum, which are considered a threatened species in Quebec and protected under provincial legislation. Wild leeks are also sometimes known as wild garlic, or ramps. If you don’t have access to wild leeks, substitute green onions and garlic. About 1/2 up of chopped green onions and 1 clove of garlic diced will work for this recipe.
Wild Leek Omelette (serves two)
6 wild leeks, cleaned and soaked in water for an hour then finely diced (remove the tough part of the stalks first)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup aged firm cheese, grated
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Sauté the prepared leeks until lightly browned and set aside. Grate the cheese.
Whisk the eggs and water thoroughly. Melt the butter in a medium-sized skillet, over medium heat, and pour in the eggs. As the eggs begin to set, sprinkle with the sautéed leeks and sprinkle with cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper. When the egg is nearly set, fold the omelette in half and continue cooking a moment or two longer until the omelette is nicely browned and the egg is set but not overcooked. Serve immediately with a side salad.