Hot Onion Omelet with Vinegar

Omelette à la Lyonnaise

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Lyons, to everyone in France, is known as the gastronomic capital of the world. What that means depends on who mouths the words. For the guidebooks and the foreigners it usually means elegant pike quenelles in crayfish sauce, truffled chickens, artichokes stuffed with foie gras, salmon in Champagne, bass in pastry—the fare of the starred and sometimes very good restaurants, for instance, that of the famous mères Lyonnaises and their successors and that of Point and his successors. To others—les vicieux—it means the mâchon, a morning meal of hearty and attractively vulgar preparations washed down with a cool abundance of Beaujolais, vibrant in its tender youth. Typical of this food are boiled pigs’ tails and rinds, quaint salads of lambs’ trotters and testicles, agrestic terrines, sausages poached in white wine with boiled potatoes, tripes in every conceivable form—and the following omelet. Sautéed onions and a pan washed up with vinegar melt into a single recurrent theme in Lyonnaise cooking.


  • 3 large sweet onions (about 12 ounces), halved and finely sliced
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar


Choose a relatively small, heavy pan in which to cook the onions so as to have a thick layer of onions—scattered loosely over a large surface, even with the tiniest of flames, they color too rapidly, their moisture being immediately evaporated. Cook them for at least ½ hour in 2 tablespoons of butter over a very low flame, tossing or stirring from time to time. They should be yellowed and very soft, but not browned.

Beat the eggs lightly with the seasonings, stir in the onions and prepare the omelet (hot pan, pour in the mixture when the butter stops foaming, stir a couple of times, lift the edges to let liquid run beneath, toss and, a couple of seconds later, slip it onto a warm plate—just done), add a tablespoon of butter to the pan, return to the heat, and, when the butter has stopped foaming and starts to turn brown, pour it over the omelet. Add the vinegar to the pan, swirl it around, and dribble it over the omelet.