Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled leftovers Frittata

 
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What do you do when you have a lot of little leftover bits and pieces of yummy food that in and of themselves don't quite make a meal that makes sense? You haul out your cast iron skillet and make a frittata.

The great thing about a frittata (an egg-based Italian dish, usually crust-less, with additional hodgepodge ingredients - your call) is that while there are rules, there is a lot of freedom and room for your creative juices to flow. Just make sure you clean as you go.

Last night a gazed upon leftover roasted fennel, some pulled pork, one lonely sweet potato, and some roasted mushrooms loitering near the back of the fridge and decided to put them all together - bibbity, bobbity, boo! Dinner with very little effort.

You can go crazy here, and no one can tell you what should or shouldn't go into your darling frittata, but there are some handy guidelines I recommend you follow so your family, friends and neighbors continue to view you as the culinary genius that you are.

The Filling

As mentioned above, we shall place no limit on what goes into your frittata, but you should make sure that all of your additions (minus the base mixture of eggs, cream, cheese) is mostly cooked, partially cooked, or at least somewhat cooked before you add it to the base. So, meats should be fully cooked and preferably re-warmed if they've been chilling in the fridge, and sturdier ingredients like root veg should already be roasted and/or sauteed. Softer veg and fresh herbs can simply be folded into the base if you would normally eat those types of additions raw.

The Base

I like to use one egg per person plus one for the pot. The frittata recipe below feeds four people, so I've used five eggs. I also like to use some form of dairy in my frittatas because I like the added flavor and texture, but you don't have to. Just don't go nuts - five to six-egg frittatas favor about 1/4-cup dairy (cream, half and half, whole milk, creme fraiche, yogurt, etc.). If I'm using fresh, tender herbs in my frittata, I'll fold them into the base so they are nicely insulated by the fluffy egg and cream.

The Pan

I recommend a well-seasoned (non-stick) cast-iron pan. You're going to need something that will release your frittata after cooking somewhat easily, but that is sturdy enough to withstand a trip into the oven. Yes, you can make a frittata in a non-stick pan on the stove, but I find you have to cook them longer to get them to cook all the way through, and mine are always over-cooked and dry that way. So - get a well-used cast-iron skillet out for this dish. Don't have one? Well, now you have a goal. You're welcome.

 
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Don't Overbake

Most of your ingredients will (or should) be already cooked, so you're really just giving the eggs and cheese time to melt and cook and bring everything together. Set your oven for 350 degrees and start checking your masterpiece around the 20-minute mark. You want your frittata to have the consistency of a jiggly custard. Depending on the size and thickness of your frittata, it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to cook to that consistency. If you want your crust a bit more golden, slide it under the broiler for a few minutes for a more golden-brown crust on top.

Season Each Component Well

The trick to any tasty dish is to season it appropriately. This means seasoning each layer, because honestly, we're talking about a casserole here. Your individual ingredients should be seasoned well on their own, and be sure to season your base, too. This goes a lot further than simply tossing some salt and pepper on top of the composed dish. This will make or break your frittata - even if you are diligent about making sure it's not over-baked. SEASON!

Choose your Cheese Wisely

Again, I'm not here to tell you how to live your life, but put some thought into what kind of cheese you're adding to your frittata. Know how your cheese is going to behave when it's heated. Will it melt well and get ooey-gooey - if that's what you're after? Do you want something more mild, like ricotta? No problem, but keep in mind it's not super melty. Neither are harder cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino, but they deliver a fantastic salty bite. I'm simply recommending you give this some thought.

Okay - one final thought before I provide the details; a true frittata is crust-less, but I like to put a somewhat solid ingredient down in the pan before I pour the liquid base of eggs and cream in. It kind of gives me a leg up when I want to get the frittata out of the pan. It's just my thang.

Heidi's Refrigerator Frittata with Pulled Pork, Sweet Potato,
and fresh herbs

serves 4

Ingredients

Base:

5 large eggs

1/4 cup cream (or any dairy - milk, creme fraiche, yogurt)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary)

1/2 cup grated swiss cheese (or cheese of your choice)

Beat eggs gently in a bowl, then whisk in the dairy (if using), followed by your fresh herbs. Fold in the cheese until everything is combined. Be sure to season your base well: 1 t. sea salt or kosher salt, 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper.

Fillings:

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced on the thinnest setting on my mandoline (regular russet or yukon gold potato would be just fine here, too)

1 cup pulled pork (you can use any meat you'd like here, if you're using meat in your dish - just be sure it's fully cooked), heated through

1/2 roasted fennel bulb, heated through

1/2 cup roasted mushrooms

1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped into fine dice (optional - I like spicy stuff)

Assembly:

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Layer the thin slices of sweet potato evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Let the potato cooked undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then gently turn the potatoes to brown the other side. Cook for 1-2 more minutes until the potato is crisp in some spots, and getting tender.

Add your additional pre-cooked/heated ingredients. You can gently combine everything in the pan with a spatula (a fish-spatula works best here!) or simply layer the additional ingredients on top of the potatoes. Now cover your filling with the egg-cream base, smoothing the top so all of the filling is covered.

Bake for 18-20 minutes and give the frittata a little jiggle - you want to see a bit of movement in the middle, but it shouldn't appear overly runny. Your frittata will continue to cook a bit when you take it out of the oven, so err on the side of caution and don't overbake it!

I let my frittata "set up" for about 5 - 10 minutes in the skillet on a cooling rack, then slice and serve with a zippy side salad.

 
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Heidi RothComment