Featured Technique - Making a Frittata

Hurricane Ike Frittata with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

(we needed to use up the eggs and cheese after the power went out)

A frittata is simply an omelet that's not been folded and has been browned on both top and bottom sides. The word frittata is attributed to the Italians. In Spain the same dish is made, often for lunch or dinner, and is called - of all things - a tortilla.

The beauty of a frittata is that any combination of ingredients can be added to a simple egg mixture, with near flawless results.

  • Potatoes, cheeses, ham, chicken, and leftovers of all manner make great ingredients

  • Recently, I made a frittata using left over wild mushrooms that were cooked with bacon and shallots, then finished with maple syrup, lime juice and cayenne pepper. It was an incredible sweet-sour-hot compliment to eggs and cheese.

  • Another recent success was using slices of quickly browned garlic along with potato cubes and grape tomatoes.

  • My friend Jan used leftovers from my One-Pot Sausage, Potato and Fish recipe as a filling for a frittata earlier this week.

The point is that frittata variations are endless, and the cooking process takes not much more skill than making scrambled eggs. Here are several ways it can work:

  • One method for making a frittata calls for flipping the entire egg concoction over in a skillet partway through cooking process. The eggs are slid onto a plate to facilitate the flipping.

  • A recent development is the frittata pan, which is two skillets that fit together, one atop the other, to allow the flipping to be done. This to me, is a colossal waste of money that could be spent on more important kitchen tools, or better yet, spent on actual FOOD.

  • My method for cooking a frittata eliminates the drama of flipping 6-10 eggs in a pan. I recommend using the broiler to lightly brown the top. This is to be done with a very hot broiler, placing the pan as close to the heating element as possible - so it quickly browns the top, but does have enough time to cook the rest of the eggs much further.

The basic formula for any frittata is to cook some vegetables and/or meats first. Add a mixture of eggs which have been whisked, along with cheeses or herbs. Let the eggs set, tipping the pan and lifting the edges of the set eggs, to allow un-set eggs to run underneath. Once the eggs are almost completely set (they'll still be a little wet on top), transfer the pan to the broiler to complete cooking and lightly brown the top. A spinkle of good parmesan during the browning step is a tasty addition.

You may be temped to use high heat to cook the eggs faster. This will result in flat, dried out eggs. Use medium to medium-low heat to set the eggs and you'll get a fluffier and moister result. As the frittata comes out of the broiler, it will be beautifully puffed up and golden. Make sure your family or guests see it straight out of the oven - because within a minute, it will settle down and flatten. Show off your prize early.

Any cooking time in a frittata recipe is approximate. Your stove, pans, and preference for how set you like your eggs will vary greatly. But the overall fomula for frittata will stay constant once you establish your cooking times with your equipment. I prefer eggs to be a little moist, and reduce the cooking times as much as I can get away with.

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