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Frittata | Remember Your First Frittata |

Frittata, Shallot, Potato and Pancetta

Of all the possible meals one can serve for a breakfast or brunch I will argue few are better or more elegant than a frittata.  On top of that, it is so very easy to make.  Remarkably, I still remember my first frittata, I printed the recipe from some site not unlike this one, went shopping and was so afraid I would mess it up.  Actually, it’s the fear I remember.  In the ensuing years I bet I have made several hundred, the fear of failure seems laughable now.  My love affair with this dish was borne out of necessity.  At the time I was hosting a large brunch and needed an elegant, scalable and simple food, I was introduced to a frittata. 

A Place in the Sun

Marc and Ivan helped us find a house in Cape Town.  This beautiful penthouse was high on the slopes of Table Mountain, just off Upper Kloof, near the neck to Camps Bay.  We entertained extensively, and the view, oh the view.

We called this house our “pent-hut”. Because our American friends could not understand how beautiful Cape Town was.  The prevailing question was if we lived in a hut or not.  Our answer was, “Yes a pent-hut.”  Many of our summer brunches were spent entertaining on the balcony overlooking the city.  Armed with a sizable wine cellar, and the view, these affairs could last for hours spanning and several meals.  Frittata became common and has been a go-to since no matter what “hut” we find ourselves in.

What is Fritatta?

In its simplest form it is somewhere between an omelette and a quiche, but much closer to an omelette. What makes them so fantastic is there is nearly no work involved, and no flipping. That’s correct no flipping that risks destruction.  The broiler does all the work for you.   This particular frittata is heartier than some.  As you make this, I’m sure you will soon find you are limited only to your imagination and good sense when adding ingredients.  It is hard to imagine the litany of ingredients has passed through my frittata’s.  No matter what you choose there are just three basic rules you need to follow.

  1. Eggs are very busy, don’t expect them to do any work for you, so precook or warm any ingredients you want to have inside the frittata. Eggs will not help you, as mentioned, they are too busy cooking themselves to worry about your problems.
  2. Whisk cheese in your eggs before the cook, and let it warm up a bit, see rule 1. Eggs won’t be helping warm your cold food.
  3. If you put things on top, like more cheese, spinach, zucchini flowers, sliced mushrooms, it won’t cook from the bottom up. The eggs are doing all they can, so broil, see rule 1.

To cook a frittata evenly we need these ingredients to be ready mise en place is key.  Typically, I take all the ingredients out and put them on the counter when I start.  Let them start to warm up.  Trust me those busy eggs won’t be helping you at all.  If for some reason you do ask the eggs to do too much, they will be rubbery, undercooked, or get the brown egg skin, the more we respect the work the egg is doing, the better the frittata.

Frittata with Shallot, Potato and Pancetta

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By Rick Britt Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes

To cook a frittata evenly we need these ingredients to be ready mise en place is key. Typically, I take all the ingredients out and put them on the counter when I start. Let them start to warm up. Trust me those busy eggs won’t be helping you at all. If for some reason you do ask the eggs to do too much, they will be rubbery, undercooked, or get the brown egg skin, the more we respect the work the egg is doing, the better the frittata.

Ingredients

  • 9 eggs; as a rule, I use about 2 per person
  • ½ cup Cheddar Colby or any mellow cows cheese grated
  • 2 medium red potatoes medium dice
  • 4 oz pancetta fine dice
  • 1 large shallot fine dice
  • 1 garlic clove in a fine mince
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 6 basil leaves in ribbons or a chiffonade
  • ¼ cup Reggiano parmesan grated

Instructions

1

Start with the eggs, crack all 9 in a large bowl, whisk with 2 tbsp. of water and a grind or two of salt and pepper, just like making scrambled eggs. Add cows cheese and whisk that in, incorporating well. I’d leave the whisk nearby, we will reincorporate once more before we cook.

2

Everything Else

3

Put Potatoes in a sauté pan with enough salted water to cover, on the boil. Just as they turn soft (3-4 minutes) strain. Rise pan and put back on the hob or burner medium-low heat.

4

Add one small glug of olive oil in the sauté pan add pancetta, cook until just turning brown.

5

Add shallots, capers, and garlic, sauté until onion is translucent.

6

Return potatoes to the pan, and warm them through.

7

Re-whisk eggs, ensuring cheese is integrated.

8

Slowly pour all over in the pan, using the back of a fork stir to ensure even distribution of the shallot, potato mixture. Stir no more.

9

Turn the broiler to high, ensuring the rack is at the top of the oven.

10

Over this low heat, we wait now for our eggs to go to work. Slowly, over about 8-10 minutes the eggs will set up, we don’t want to brown the bottom, the top will be wet or even slightly liquid.

11

Only now sprinkle the basil ribbons on the top, a few grinds of sea salt and Reggiano parmesan cheese.

12

Move to the oven to broil. Please watch your frittata, check often, the cheese on top will brown, and set up. Remove immediately, oh and the pan will be like one million degrees, so take care.

Notes

Let rest for 2-3 min, slide onto a cutting board and cut in wedges, serve with a small ramekin of Napa Valley Tomato Sauce and a basil sprig or flower for color.

Let rest for 2-3 min, slide onto a cutting board and cut in wedges, serve with a small ramekin of Napa Valley Tomato Sauce and a basil sprig or flower for colour.

Wine Matching

In 2008 Fairview Winery in Paarl, South Africa, released a 2007 Viognier that was very nice.  Fairview is the producer of the cheekily named wine “Goats Do Roam”, which is globally pretty prevalent.    It so happens that I was at a wine tasting at Fairview which coincided with the release.  We were entertaining some family and friends, planning lunch at the restaurant there “The Goats Shed.” If memory serves, Marc and Ivan were there as well.  I fell in love with that wine.  So much so that I bought a substantial portion of the production.  I had quite a successful tasting, and the alcohol-laden math I did I my head seemed to make sense, but when they stuffed the van with all these bottles my error seemed apparent.  Luckily, we had a large subterranean wine cellar, so keeping it was not a problem.  This Viognier became a signature wine for our house while we lived there.

A Legend is born

A few months later a friend of ours was entertaining some friends from out of town and took them on the cellar tour of Fairview.  As he tells it, they got to the rare bottle tasting and were told they were in for a real treat, they were going to try the “Award winning 2007 Viognier” which “Some American bought most of it.”  Our friend said, “I know that guy, I’ve had this wine so many times, he has hundreds of bottles of it, he serves it all the time.”  Our friend mentioned that the people at Fairview thought I was “famous or something”, I don’t know how true that was, but we certainly have had several good laughs over it.

Viognier

Obviously, I really like Viognier I enjoy the aromatic herbal and floral notes, especially lavender and thyme.  On the palate, it is smooth with nice stone fruits. Try paring your lovely frittata with a Viognier, it will balance the weight and creaminess of the eggs beautifully.

 
 

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