© Leclaire & Schenk
Frittata is an Italian egg dish.
Eggs are combined with other ingredients such as meat, vegetables or seafood, then poured into a frying pan and cooked slowly. Sometimes the top is cooked by flipping the frittata over; sometimes it is cooked by placing the frittata in the oven (usually in fact under the broiler / grill.) It ends up like an egg pie, or a quiche, except without a crust, and a bit drier. It is quite dense and firm, not soft and moist like an omelette.
When done, it’s inverted out of the pan onto a plate or cutting board, preserving its round shape (unless misfortune strikes in this final step.)
Frittata can be served hot, room temperature or cold. It is cut into pieces like a pie for serving.
Any recipes that people come up with for frittatas are somewhat artificial, because frittatas came about as a way to use up leftover items. A frittata is the ideal dish to use what you have in the fridge, or whatever happens to be in season or look good at the store.
Slices of frittata are great inside crusty bread or rolls to make a sandwich.
The Spanish usually make their with potatoes and onions, and call them tortillas (not the same as what the Mexicans think of when they use the word tortilla.)
Frittata are better than omelettes for large crowds. Unlike omelettes, which are high-stress because they are single-serving and have to be done one at a time, a Frittata can be made ahead and served at room temperature. They are also easier to make than omelettes: because they have to be cooked slowly, you can go off and do other things, rather than standing there at the stove.
You generally fry up most of the veg or ingredients first, and then pour the beaten egg over top of them right in the pan. Don’t add any milk to the beaten egg, just season it and add herbs to your taste before pouring over the cooked veg. Use a six-inch (15 cm) pan if you are starting with 3 eggs; a 10-inch (25 cm) pan for 6 eggs. Some food writers recommend against cast iron frying pans; they say it retains too much of the high heat from the initial browning period and cooks the frittata too fast. Zillions of people, though, use cast iron pans for frittatas and swear by the results. Cook until it’s set, then flip to brown the other side.
Easy way to flip: when it’s all set, use a flipper just to ensure that the edges and the bottom are loose. Then put an upside down large plate (as flat as you can get) over top it all, and keep one hand firmly holding that plate in place. Then with the other hand, lift the frying pan by the handle, then flip the frying plan so that the frittata will fall onto the plate that you are holding. The cooked side of the frittata will be facing up on the plate; the uncooked side will be face down. Put the frying pan back on the stove, then slide the frittata just as it is, cooked side up, back into the pan to allow the uncooked side to cook.
If you are planning to finish it off in the oven, bear that in mind when choosing the frying pan that you are going to be using (and don’t forget to preheat the oven before you need it).