Monday, February 2, 2009

Just Toss It In There

Calphalon One Nonstick large frittata panIf you're lucky enough to have a weekend place out in the Hamptons, or just know someone who does, you grow accustomed to a refrigerator full of leftovers by Sunday morning and are prepared in advance to whittle them down. That, I think, is why the egg preceded the chicken. A frittata, that noble, unaffected Italian omelette will make quick work of the three roasted asparagus spears, half a bell pepper, and wedge of Gouda from the appetizer course. The real trick is to pick two or three ingredients and resist tossing in the kitchen sink. Last weekend's kitchen scavenger hunt offered up a fennel bulb, a couple of sweet Italian sausage links, some Swiss and Parmesan cheeses, and a few herbs: a potential for the sum being much greater than its parts.
Although the prep work is similar, in my opinion, the frittata is easier to prepare than the traditional French omelette. You aren't faced with the whole folding challenge, and there is almost no guess work as to how runny the thing is gonna turn out by the time it hits the plate. Of course, the omelette is a lot more elegant from a presentation standpoint, but we're talking leftovers here, and so have already ceded the high ground. 
Frittata basics:
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp liquid - water, milk, half-n-half, cream (I use buttermilk)
  • Salt and pepper
Very lightly beat all ingredients in a mixing bowl, just until incorporated. I don't like a lot of air in the beaten eggs.
Eggs beginning to set in wet mixture
In a large skillet, cook eggs in a little oil and butter over medium heat, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as the eggs begin to set. When the mixture starts to solidify into a whole, but is still mostly wet, stop stirring and cook for one more minute to set eggs on the underside.
Put skillet about 6" below a pre-heated broiler in your oven and cook for 4-6 minutes. Watch the eggs carefully. They should brown thoroughly but will burn rather quickly once browning begins.
Browned and cooling frittata
Remove skillet from the oven and let the frittata sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the center to finish cooking through.
Italian sausage and fennel frittata (detail)
Cut into wedges and serve with fresh salsa, sour cream or just plain.
If you're adding vegetables or meat to your frittata, heat them in the skillet first and then pour in the egg mixture. With cheese, add half to the wet egg/vegetable/meat mix, and sprinkle the rest over the egg mixture after you've stopped stirring and are waiting for the bottom to set.
Here's a caveat for you newer cooks: the latest gadget is the frittata pan: two pans, actually, with interlocking handles that allow you to "effortlessly" flip a frittata and brown the top without broiling. While I'm all for kitchen pornography, you just don't need this pan. Of course, if you have more money than brains, Williams-Sonoma will gladly take $135 for a 10" nonstick pan. Knock yourself out.
For some reason, this dish is a showstopper, especially for kids with fussy tastes. Must be the cheese. In any event, get in there and be creative, just think in terms of compatibilities. If it sounds like something you'd serve together for a meal, it will probably translate well in a frittata.
Italian sausage and fennel frittata
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food


Matt said...

Oh how I love Fritattas... we do then for super bowl snacks! Remember people, you beat whole eggs with a fork... never a whisk!

Jeff (UK) said...

Thanks for the tip Matt.

Have never made a fritatta, but they look so great - and easy. Being a big leftover fan, this fits the bill, thanks Mikey!