Larry thinks that the first time he saw a fritatta was when he lived in Spain and Carmen, their cook, made one for lunch. Since he was a child and the dish was meatless, he wasn't interested. Eggs and potatoes ... no thanks.
Flash forward several decades to when we lived in Los Angeles and one evening we went to a theatrical presentation called "Tamara". This was a play that took place in an Italian Villa and it was unusual in that the audience of 100 followed a character of their choice through different rooms and situations. Larry was following a chambermaid and Elizabeth was following the chauffeur when they, along with the rest of the cast and the audience, all came together in the
kitchen. At the start of the 'scene' a young man begin to saute sliced onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs in olive oil. He continued to saute and slice and stir, all the while carrying on dialogue with the other cast members while adding seasonings and eggs to the mixture. Then, he suddenly picked up the pan and with a flick of the wrist tossed the entire mixture into the air where it flipped over revealing a golden brown top. Instant ovation from the audience ... I mean, you can have your Hamlets, but this was true talent! He continued to cook the other side, then slid it onto a plate and deftly sliced it into pieces which he shared with the cast while they continued the complex plot of the play. (An Italian buffet was presented during intermission, but, alas, no fritatta.)
Unfortunately, Larry tried this at home ... once. Have you ever tried to scrape burned egg and onion off of a burner, floor, walls, ceiling and kitchen counter? Not fun!
About two years ago we discovered a method of making fritattas that avoided any mess and now it is one of our favorite brunches or light suppers.
(Several friends of ours who follow this blog have requested that we go into a little more detail on some recipes as they are relatively new to cooking and would like a little more direction; that's what we've done here.)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil, Divided
1 Medium onion, sliced and rings separated
5 Medium mushrooms, sliced
1 Medium ripe tomato, seeded
3/4 Tsp Italian Herb Mix (see previous post)
1 large russet potato
11/2 cups egg beater
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 sprigs fresh parsley, minced
2 - 3 ounces prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Heat a 10" non-stick, oven proof frying pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to cover bottom, about 1 tablespoon. Add the sliced onion, stir, and cook over medium low heat until soft and translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms, cover and cook for about three minutes, being careful not to burn.
Add the coarsely chopped seeded tomato and the Italian Herb mixture. Stir gently, cover and continue to cook over medium low heat for about five minutes.
Remove all the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon. Turn up the heat a bit and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated then add the chopped prosciutto and brown. Remove it and place it on top of the vegetables and set aside.
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add the thinly sliced potato. Cook at medium/medium low, covered for about five minutes. Uncover, add freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt (be careful here as the prosciutto is salty). Gently turn the potato slices over, recover pan and cook for another five minutes. The potato should be tender yet slightly crunchy.
While the potato is cooking, add the Parmesan cheese and parsley to the egg beater. (Note: I prefer the egg beaters to eggs. There is no taste difference, they have less fat and they puff up and make the fritatta lighter then if made with eggs. If you would prefer to use eggs, use six eggs, lightly beaten then add the cheese and parsley.)
When the potato is finished, add the vegetable and meat mixture back into the pan and gently stir. We use a spatula and a small pair of tongs. Cover and cook on medium low heat for about five minutes until the flavors have married.
Preheat broiler and place a rack in the highest position.
Pour in the egg mixture being careful to distribute it evenly around the pan. Cover and cook under medium low heat until the mixture has just started to set, about 3 minutes, but check at two. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the top.
Place under broiler and cook for about 1 - 2 minutes until slightly brown on top. Remove from oven to stove. Let cool for about 2 minutes and then slice and serve.
This makes four generous servings. Left overs save nicely wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator and makes a great lunch after reheating in the microwave.
That's ONE FRITATTA. FRITATTA NUMBER TWO would be omit the prosciutto. Saute chopped green pepper with the onion. Use chili powder in place of the Italian Herb Mix and a Spanish Fritatta is yours to enjoy. And for THREE FRITATTAS MORE, use your imagination. You can add crab or a little smoked trout to the Spanish Fritatta. Another variation is to add bacon in lieu of the prosciutto and what ever seasoning you like. Also good is pork sausage or turkey sausage crumbled and browned. This is pretty hard to foul up once the basics are down. Have fun with it!