Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Ham, Cheese, and Onion Frittata

So I was still a few days away from the end of the 31 nights of different dinners for January when our friends gave us a dozen eggs from their chickens. We had already had scrambled eggs earlier in the month, so according to the rules (no repeats) I had to think of something else to do with them.  I had left over ham I had chopped up and saved from one of the dinners, so I was thinking omelets at first, but then I remembered something I had seen like an omelet, only you bake it in a frying pan in the oven.  So now I give you my first attempt at a frittata.

A ham, cheese, and onion frittata
I went a "googlin" to see how to make them and checked out Alton Brown's recipe, which I used as sort of a base.  The nice thing about fritattas is that you can use any left over meat and veggies you have lying around.  Great for after a holiday party when you have both ham and a veggie tray to use up.  Alton used asparagus, but you can use anything you love and throw it in the pan.  I even heard some people put left over noodles in there.  Weird, right?  I just stuck with the basics.  Leftover ham, some diced onions, eggs, herbs, and a bit of shredded cheese.

This recipe is very loose and flexible.  The size of your pan and the number of eggs you use depends on how many people you are feeding.  Alton recommends using a 12-inch non-stick yet oven safe frying pan.  I do not have one like that (the handles would melt off) so I used my smaller medium sized (8in) cast iron because it was just me and hubby.  The number of eggs you use also depends on if you want a thick frittata or a thin one.

The difference between a frittata and an omelet is (besides the obvious flipping halfway through the cooking), is that you saute the meat and veggies before pouring the eggs over.  Also there is something usually added in the egg mixture, like herbs and Parmesan cheese.  First I sauteed the ham and onions together on medium for about 5 minutes until the ham was heated and the onions were translucent.  

This makes for a lovely smell...
Next preheat your oven on a low broil and then in a small bowl mix together:

6-7 eggs (or more if you want a thicker frittata)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Kraft)
Johny's seasoning salt (to taste)
fresh cracked pepper
1 Tablespoon of dried basil or parsley (can use fresh too)

We used basil instead of parsley as the recipe suggested
Once your veggies and meat are ready to go, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

Add caption
At first you want to treat this like an omelet. The pan was pretty hot from the saute so I backed off the heat a bit before I poured in the eggs.  Move the ingredients around in the pan slowly with a spatula until they start to set up.

Mmmm.... yummy
As the sides start to set but it is still loose in the middle, I sprinkled on a tiny bit of grated cheese.

everything is better with cheese.
Put the whole pan in the oven and let it broil for 3-4 minutes until the top is set

It started to poof up just like our pannukakku recipe... always an impressive feat.

The frittata, the much easier omelet
This next step is exactly where a non stick, oven safe pan would come in handy, because as you pull it out of the oven you can easily slide the whole frittata onto a cutting board.  Since we had the higher sides of a cast iron skillet, we actually took two spatulas and lifted it out onto the cutting board.  I was relieved it came out in one piece.

The finished frittata on the cutting board

You can cut through this baby with a pizza cutter and I hear it is quite traditional to slice it into wedges.  After that serve it up with some hashbrowns or toast.

A few things to note about the frittata.  It is definitely more dense than a light and fluffy omelet.  The flavors of the cooked onions and ham, along with the basil and the Parmesan gave it a more "grown up" flavor.  I personally thought it was on the "dry" side but I like my eggs a little runny. I was thinking it needed some kind of dipping sauce next time, but I'm not sure what. The one great mommy bonus was that you can serve everyone at once, which is nice because when you make omelets, normally it's one at a time.  These also heated up nicely the next day for left overs.  So that was our first attempt at a frittata.  It's fun, it's different, it was quick (about 10 min),and it was very flavorful. Enjoy.

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