A few tips for fast, no-stick frittata

MCT photo

MCT photo

 

To my husband’s exasperation, I am a chronic underestimater of the time needed to put dinner on the table.

So I expected him to fall out of his chair last night when presented with a plate just shy of 30 minutes after I started cooking. Frittata may not be his favorite, but who is he to complain of such speedy service?

It is, after all, a meal I’ve practiced plenty this summer — the perfect vehicle for home-grown zucchini, tomato, eggplant, potatoes, fresh herbs. No mere omelet, frittata is hearty and can be eaten hot, at room temperature or cold the next day. Last night’s dinner provided a slab for today’s lunch.

In case you haven’t tried frittata yet this summer (or are running low on ideas for your Eat Local Challenge menus), consider the BLT Frittata, this week’s Quick Fix recipe in A la Carte. The method espoused by Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch is indeed speedy, but not quite foolproof, in my opinion.

A recent Los Angeles Times article by Russ Parsons is a good companion, celebrating the versatility of frittata with tips for maximum ease of preparation: namely cooking, covered, over low heat, broiling for a minute or two and omitting typical instructions for flipping it out of the pan onto a plate.

Parsons credits Marcella Hazan, cookbook author and maven of Italian cuisine, for showing him the light where frittata is concerned. I have cooking instructor and writer Anne Willan to thank.

Before I ever heard of Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals, I consulted Willan’s “In & Out of the Kitchen in 15 Minutes or Less.” Published in 1995 and purchased at a bargain-basement price at my college bookstore, the slim volume nudged me away from the heavy food of childhood toward lighter fare simply prepared with fresh ingredients. And it introduced me to frittata, including the cover-and-cook method prized by Parsons and an extra step to ensure that this frittata won’t stick — ever.

Whereas Parsons and most other cooks will tell you to add eggs directly to the pan with sauteed ingredients, Willan insists on transferring the ingredients from the pan to the bowl with beaten egg, wiping the pan clean and adding quite a bit of butter — 2 tablespoons to be exact — before adding the egg mixture. That quantity of melted butter eliminates the need to prepare frittata in a nonstick skillet. Then you just cover the pan and leave it to cook for 10 minutes or so on very low heat.

Parsons swears this method produces a more tender frittata than the old stir-and-scrape method similar to preparing an omelet. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never made one any other way.

Within the past year, however, I did start finishing mine under the broiler, which ensures the egg on top is cooked, melts any cheese and browns it, so there’s no need to flip the frittata out of the pan to expose its golden underside for serving. If you’ve ever tried this, you know it’s a tricky maneuver. Skip it and serve frittata straight from the pan.

If you’re still concerned about sticking, run a spatula or butter knife around the pan’s edges, then rap the pan hard a couple of times on a cutting board. The frittata’s bottom should pop free.

Here are a couple more frittata recipes courtesy of the Times. Or create your own with whatever you have on hand. The basic formula is about six eggs for a 10-inch skillet and 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of cooked filling.

Prosciutto and Onion Frittata

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup thinly sliced onions

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

3 thin slices prosciutto (about 11⁄2 ounces), cut crosswise in 1⁄4-inch slivers

6 eggs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1⁄4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

Heat broiler. Melt the butter in a 10-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and salt, then cover pan and cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the prosciutto and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

While onions are cooking, beat the eggs with a fork in a mixing bowl just until yolks and whites are thoroughly mixed, but don’t overbeat, which can make frittata dry. Beat in the parsley and 1⁄4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Add egg mixture to pan with onions and prosciutto; stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Cook, without stirring, until eggs have set, leaving only top layer uncooked, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Place under broiler until top is browned and puffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

To unmold frittata, let it cool slightly in pan. Use a spatula to loosen it along sides and then bang it firmly on a cutting board to release underside. Slide it out onto a serving plate. Serve either hot or at room temperature. If you’re going to refrigerate frittata, let it warm to room temperature before serving.

Makes 6 appetizer servings, 4 as a main course.

 

Shrimp and Basil Frittata

2 tablespoons butter

1⁄2 cup thinly sliced green onions (both green and white parts), about 4 onions

1⁄2 pound peeled, small shrimp (70 to 100 per pound)

6 eggs

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

8 to 10 leaves of basil, torn into small pieces

Heat broiler. Melt the butter in a 10-inch, nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Add the green onions and cook until they’ve softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they are firm, about 5 minutes.

While onions and shrimp are cooking, beat the eggs, salt and basil with a fork in a mixing bowl just until yolks and whites are thoroughly mixed, but don’t overbeat, which can make frittata dry.

Add egg mixture to pan with onions and shrimp and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Cook, without stirring, until eggs have set, leaving only top layer uncooked, about 10 minutes. Place under broiler until top is browned and puffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

To unmold frittata, let it cool slightly in pan. Use a spatula to loosen it along sides and then bang it firmly on a cutting board to release underside. Slide it out onto a serving plate. Serve either hot or at room temperature. If you’re going to refrigerate frittata, let it warm to room temperature before serving.

Makes 6 appetizer servings, 4 as a main course.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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