The Denver Omelet

Sunday March 5, 2017

When I was still in college, my boyfriend and I spent every Sunday with his grandparents, Granny and Grampy Weick, after Grampy retired from working on the Union Pacific Railroad line. Their Saratoga, California, home was a suburban corner lot. They moved there from San Francisco and looked forward to having a large garden since the area is so sunny. It looked like a tract home from the street; but that was where the semblance ended.

A walk through the side gate or out the garage back door and one entered a serene country landscape. Every inch of their yard was a massive sprawling garden with fruit trees, berry bushes, old fashioned vegetables and flowers, and the food we ate came from there. Grampy’s brunch specialty was a Denver omelet. I used to hang over his shoulder while he was cooking and he would shoo me away while waving the Tabasco bottle back and forth, exclaiming, “This is my secret recipe, don’t peek, get back to the table.” We would have whole wheat granola bread toast (before granola was fashionable) with homemade raspberry-currant jelly, fresh picked blackberries or peaches that had been chilled in the refrigerator with a bit of simple sugar syrup poured over and cream, fresh squeezed orange juice, and coffee made in a glass globe vacuum pot that looked like it would be more at home in a science laboratory.

That omelet is still one of my favorite egg dishes any time of day, ripe with happy memories. You can use leftover ham of any type, get some thick slices at the deli, or keep a ham slice, such as from Neiman Ranch, in the freezer just for this omelet. Omelets come together so quickly, I just make two separate omelets one after another without wiping out the pan and cut each in half for a serving, just like Grampy used to do. Serve with salad and toast for dinner.

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 3/4 cup finely diced cooked ham
  • 8 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • Few splashes hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 cup (4-ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese


Melt the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and green pepper; cook until soft and a bit browned, about 8 minutes. Add the ham and cook 5 minutes more, stirring a few times. Have the plates ready and waiting to the side of the stove. Remove half of the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Spread the remaining ham and vegetables in the pan into an even layer over the bottom.

In a bowl with a fork or whisk, beat 4 of the eggs with 1 tablespoon of milk, some salt and pepper, and a few splashes of Tabasco. Pour the eggs over the ham and vegetables in the pan. Let cook for 5 to 10 seconds to set the bottom. Using a spatula, lift the edges and tilt the pan so the uncooked eggs can run onto the bottom of the pan. Do not stir or shake the pan. Continue in this manner of letting the uncooked eggs run under and then leaving it alone to cook until the wet eggs are all a firm consistency, yet still soft and moist. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Use the spatula to lift the side and fold in half to make a half moon shape. Divide the omelet in half and serve pronto. Add the reserved half of the ham and vegetables back to the pan and make the second omelet.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2008, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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