Saturday, May 30, 2009

FRITATTA! Fun to Say. Fun to Eat.

OK, true story. Last week an entire pallet of eggs fell off the back of a pickup truck directly in front of our home. You can imagine the mess. There were however some cartons that survived the fall. I was just pulling in to the driveway as Noah was bidding goodbye to the truck's driver, and clutching a windfall of brown eggs.

This was an occasion that called for one of my favorite breakfasts-- FRITATTA! I think of fritatta as more of a technique than a recipe; like an omelette, once you get the basic idea, the possibilities are endless. Fritattas














-- essentially a crustless quiche-- are easy to make, keep well in the fridge, and are a great way to use up ingredients, but there are some basic guidelines that are important to follow.

First, it's important to understand the main ingredient: eggs. When I was in culinary school, Chef Marco Ilaria(my favorite instructor) taught us that eggs are delicate, and meant to be treated gently. Even though it's possible to scramble eggs in less than a minute (over very high heat), the finished product is going to be tough and dry. Eggs should never be tough and dry. Properly cooked eggs are a thing of beauty. They should be silky, fluffy, and moist. Is there any greater egg turn-off than the brown, leathery crust that you get from super hot short-order griddles? Yuck. Be gentle with your eggs. Lower the heat. And for goodness sake, settle down with that whisk. They only need to be stirred a few strokes beyond the point of breaking the yolks.

Secondly, and this applies to both omelettes and fritattas, cook your accoutrement. When vegetables, and greens, and breakfast meats cook they release liquid, and that is not going to improve your fritatta. Saute your mushrooms, wilt your spinach, steam your broccoli, fry your sausage, and then, give it a minute to drain or steam off excess moisture. Cooked vegetables are also going to complement the overall texture of the dish.

Thirdly, season well. Eggs love salt and pepper. The right amount will take your fritatta from ordinary to eggstraordinary (sorry...had to). Remember to account for added salt content from cheeses like Feta or Parmesan. All I'm sayin' is even if it just gets sprinkled on at the table, don't forget the salt.

Below is the recipe for our Windfall Fritatta. How did I come up with it? I went through the drawers of my fridge. Potato, onion, and egg are always a great combo, but the sky's the limit. Here are a few other ideas to get your wheels turning:
  • Roasted Red Pepper, Zucchini, Goat Cheese, Shallot, and Fresh Rosemary
  • Broccoli Cheddar with or without Ham
  • Prosciutto, Peas, and Parmesan
  • Bacon, Mushroom, Spinach, and Swiss Cheese

    Windfall Fritatta


What to make when a pallet of eggs falls off a truck in front of your house.

  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, halved and very thinly sliced (1/8 inch)
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion (like Walla Walla), sliced longitudinally
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Crack the eggs into a small mixing bowl and whisk gently to break the yolks. Set aside.

In an oven-proof skillet (*see note), about 8 inches in diameter, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the potato and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until potatoes are just becoming tender. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1 minute.

Turn the burner to off. Add the eggs, and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir lightly to evenly distribute all ingredients. Sprinkle evenly with feta and chives. Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes or until the middle is set (no longer liquid).

*Note: Cast iron and fritatta are the best of friends, but any oven proof skillet will do. If you don't have one, don't worry. You can also use a similar-sized casserole, souffle, or baking dish. Just keep an eye on it as the cooking time will need to be adjusted.

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