We LOVE the 50 nifty United States of this awesome country and believe each state is special. Every Monday we feature a sandwich unique to its state as part of our “50 Sandwiches, 50 States, 50 Weeks” series beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming.
Most of you probably know the Denver omelet, aka the Western omelet. But before there was the Denver omelet, there was the Western sandwich.
Like I mentioned in the California French Dip post, I like a good story, history, and how and why things came about. Although the origins of the Denver omelet are a bit dicey, the theories of how the tasty dish transpired are no less intriguing. One theory suggests the omelet originated from cowboys working the cattle drives using ingredients they had readily available: eggs, ham, onions, and bell peppers. Placed between two pieces of bread, the meal becomes mobile. It’s unlikely cowboys had access to cheese on the cattle drives so that is believed to have come later. As the dish spread to the east the name was changed from Western to Denver in reference to the largest city in the Rocky Mountain West.
Another theory suggests the sandwich was created by Chinese cooks during early railroad days by sandwiching egg-foo-yung on bread to make it portable for the workmen. People in Utah then renamed the Western sandwich the Denver sandwich because, well, they just thought it sounded better.
The real story: no none knows for sure, but the Denver omelet remains a favorite of many. Our version of the omelet isn’t exactly an omelet but more of a cheesy scramble with added fresh mushroom because they rock! Served between two pieces of buttery, toasted bread and you’ve got yourself an “egg”cellent sandwich perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
- 6 eggs
- 2 Tbsps. water or milk
- 1½ Tbsps. butter
- 1 cup (about ⅓ lb.) cured ham, diced
- ½ cup bell pepper, diced
- ¾ cup red onion, diced
- ¾ cup mushrooms, diced
- 8 slices of cheese of choice, divided (I used Pepper Jack)
- 8 slices of bread of choice plus enough butter to butter both sides of each slice, (I recommend sour dough which wasn't available so I used Italian)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in the middle.
- While oven heats, whip eggs and water together in a bowl with high walls and set aside. Then dice ham and veggies.
- Butter bread on both sides and arrange on a baking sheet. When the oven's ready, put the bread in and toast 10 minutes or until toasty. I flipped them after 6 minutes. Watch them closely though.
- Meanwhile, heat butter on medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Add ham and bell peppers and saute about 2 minutes.
- Add onions and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes.
- Pour in beaten eggs and move them around with a spatula or wooden spoon so they do not stick to the pan.
- After 2 to 3 minutes add 4 slices of cheese and reduce heat to medium/low. Push the eggs to the center of the pan and wait for them to finish cooking so there is no more liquid. At this point avoid moving them around too much as we want to keep them formed together so they aren't too crumbly.
- Turn on broiler. Remove 4 slices of the toasty bread from the baking sheet and set aside leaving 4 slices on the sheet.
- Spoon ¼ of the eggs on each of the 4 slices of bread and top with a slice of cheese. Place in the oven and broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Do not walk away from the oven. Stay put so you do not ruin this!
- When the cheese is melted, top with with reserved slices of bread and you are ready to eat!