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Mar 30 2009

Frittatas

It’s been a while since I’ve done a food post, and since I recently revived this recipe and put it back into my rotation, I thought I’d share it with the rest of the class.

FrittataFrittatas are, IMO, one of the great unsung food items. They’re easy, they’re quick, they’re portable, and they’re massively versatile. You can eat them hot, warm, or cold; you can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; they’re good in summer or winter; you can carry them in a lunchbox or a picnic basket. And you can put just about anything in them — so you can personalize them to your own preferences, or use them to clear out bits and pieces from your fridge.

Here’s my recipe. Except I’m not sure it could be called a “recipe,” exactly. It’s more of a broad concept.

What you’ll need:

EggsEggs (duh).

Stuff that you’d like to have in a frittata. (I told you this was versatile.) Peppers, onions, olives, sausage, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, ham, spinach, peas, corn… pretty much any sort of vegetable, or any sort of meat. I’ve made frittatas with potatoes (more on that in a moment); and while I haven’t yet made this myself, I’ve heard tell of frittatas being made with day-old cooked pasta.

An ovenproof skillet. A non-stick one is ideal — if you have something like a good Calphalon pan that can be put in the oven, that’s what you want — but any skillet that can be put in the oven will do. Cast iron is classic, but in my experience it’s hard to get a frittata cleanly out of a cast iron pan. Pretty much any size is fine: you can make little frittatas, or big ones.

Oil or butter.

Salt and pepper.

How to make it:

Heat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

Take the eggs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. (You never, ever, ever want to cook cold eggs if you can possibly help it. Cooking cold eggs makes them rubbery.) For a little pan, like a 7″, four eggs will probably be enough; for a 10″ pan, I use six; for a bigger pan, eight or ten.

Put oil or butter in your skillet, and heat it up. (Less if you’re using a non-stick pan; more if you’re not.)

VegetablesTake the stuff that you want to put in your frittata, and put it in your skillet. If it needs cooking, cook it: it won’t cook for very long in the frittata itself. (If it doesn’t need cooking, just warm it up a bit.) Sautee your onions or peppers or sausage or whatever, until they’re pretty much as cooked as you like. (You can also roast your veggies instead of sauteeing them if you prefer.) IMO, veggies and stuff should be cut up into smallish dice, since the frittata will be hard to eat otherwise. If you’re going to do potatoes, slice them very thinly, and sautee them until they’re crispy and golden brown. If you’re going to use tomatoes, cut them up and drain out the liquid and seeds on paper towels first; otherwise, your frittata will be soupy. Onions are extra-good if they’re caramelized.

“How much stuff?” I hear you cry. You want enough stuff that the skillet will be full to about halfway up… but not so much that it’s packed solid. When you pour the eggs in, you want a fair amount of the egg to filter down around the veggies and whatnot to the bottom of the pan.

Eggs 1Beat your eggs lightly (they should be thoroughly mixed but not frothy). You don’t add milk or anything; just eggs, plus salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to medium low, and pour the eggs into the skillet. (If you aren’t using a non-stick pan, make sure there’s butter or oil on the sides of the pan as well as the bottom before you put in the eggs. If you are using a non-stick pan, this doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t as big a deal.)

Cook on the stovetop at medium low until the bottom is set but the top is still runny. The time will vary depending on how big a frittata you’re making, but it should only be a few minutes. (About 5 minutes for a 7″ pan; a bit more for a bigger one.)

When the bottom is set but the top is still runny, put it in the oven at 375 Fahrenheit, and cook until it’s completely set. Again, the time will vary depending on how big a frittata you’re making, but it should only be a few minutes. Just keep an eye on it. (About 3-4 minutes for a 7″ pan; a bit more for a bigger one. I told you this was quick.)

If you want the top browned, stick it in the broiler for a minute. If you like cheese, grate it on the top at the broiler stage.

Calphalon12inchSkilletTransfer it to a plate. This is the point where you realize why I keep gassing on about non-stick skillets. If you’re using cast iron, you’ll probably need to slide a butter knife around the edges to loosen it before doing this, and it still may not come out all that pretty. You can also say “Fuck it,” and serve it directly out of the pan. Let it rest for a minute, then slice it into wedges like pizza, and serve.

Have fun! And if you make any interesting or unusual or especially tasty versions of this, let me know, as I’m always looking for ideas.

Sweet basil book(Credit for the broad concept — namely, “cook on the stovetop until the bottom is set, then put it in the oven at 375 until it’s done” — goes to the lovely book Sweet Basil, Garlic, Tomatoes, and Chives: The Vegetable Dishes of Tuscany and Provence.)

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Pat

    I often add stale tortillas because there’s always some lurking in my fridge. Cut the into bite-sized peices and saute in a little oil/butter/bacon grease til crispy and golden brown before adding the eggs.
    Sometimes I mix small chunks of cheese in with the eggs rather than melting it on top.

  2. 2
    El Mocho

    I don’t preheat the whole oven, but use the broiler. I cook my filling then cook the eggs on low until the bottom sets but the top is still runny. Then I run it under the broiler until the top firms up. I don’t even close the oven door– just stick the skillet in enough to sit under the broiler. I do move one rack all the way to the top so I don’t kill my wrists holding the skillet steady.

  3. 3
    Ebonmuse

    Forgive my culinary ignorance, but what’s the difference between a frittata and an omelet? I can see that one is baked and the other is fried, but how much difference does it make in the end product?

  4. 4
    Greta Christina

    Well, let’s see. The eggy part of an omelette is typically somewhat flat, and it’s a separate entity from the fillings: you fold the flat eggy part over around the fillings. A frittata is thicker, and the fillings are incorporated directly into the egginess. The difference in the end product is that it’s more solid than an omelette, less messy, and more portable. (It’s really closer to a quiche than it is to an omelette, only less custardy and without a crust.)
    Hope that made sense. Some things are really hard to describe without being able to wave your hands around…

  5. 5
    Cath the Canberra Cook

    I can vouch for it that leftover pasta is a good option for a frittata filling. But if I have left over rice noodles, I tend to use them in okonomiyaki instead.

  6. 6
    Rob C.

    You made me *hungry*. Frittata? Want!
    (sigh, maybe I’ll have time tomorrow. Wonder what’s in my fridge :-)
    Food for thought, food for belly—I like this blog!

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