Saturday, August 21, 2010

Frittata with Potatoes, Onion, and Rosemary

Frittatas have been one of those dishes long on my wish list. I have made the simple parmesan dish before, but it was a tough sell for a meal at home. This time I wanted to make something with a little more in it. So I bought myself an onion in the knowledge that I had some food from earlier in the week - basil and tomato in particular, and hoped to find a frittata recipe that suited.

Flicking through Marcella Cucina I spotted this dish. I had potatoes, the onion, and some slightly old rosemary. And so I was away. The basil would keep.

I was worried at first about the amount of oil. No, before that I was a little apprehensive that the fat was oil at all. Aren't frittatas made with butter? Marcella Cucina was published at a time when butter was on the way out.

Nonetheless I proceeded as directed, except I put in a bit of extra oil. I know I'm meant to follow the instructions exactly the first time, but two tablespoons of oil is not a lot to cook this much onion.

Once the onion was soft - perhaps not as soft as I would like it, but I didn't want to brown it, I put in the potato and put the lid on. Again I was concerned that there was no liquid to be put in the pan - presumably the liquid from the potatoes themselves were to look after things. I was even more concerned when I had a peek and things were thinking about burning. I quickly put the pan on an even smaller burner but resisted the urge to put in a tablespoon or so of water.

Time past and eventually the potatoes did get soft as promised (although I snuck in a little extra salt), and I poured in the egg mixture and let it set slowly. Once it was reasonably firm except on the top I put it under the grill. I'm not sure what sort of 'broiler' Marcella has in mind, but running this frittata under my grill 'briefly' would not achieve much. I left it there probably for a couple of minutes, until it seemed set on the top although I could spot a little movement under the upper skin. It did not brown, as instructed (cf G Hazan in his works).

I was going to make a salad to go with it but failed to do so.

Instead, I struggled with how to get the frittata out of the pan. I did not use a non-stick pan, as I do not own one that is suitable. Do the frittatas just flop out of those pans? Mine would not, but I was able to use an egg flipper to cut slices and put them on a plate. To my horror, ancient and unpleasant water from the plastic flipper fell onto my frittata, but I did what I could to pour it off and it did not seem to affect the taste.

It did not look very promising on the pan. Rustic, my dining companion reported.

But skepticism soon gave way to adulation, and the dish was pronounced a great success, and much tastier than any frittatas that had been purchased at cafes. It was quite creamy, which I am reasonably sure it should not have been (see Cucina on page 52 - although Marcella also says it should not be stiff and dry).

A question was asked between pleasure noises: Is there much milk in this?

None, I retorted.


Nope, I said smugly.


Nary a drop.

And so I have committed to making this dish again. The onions were a great hit, as were the potato and the rosemary. And I guess the eggs played a part and so everything got involved.

My only question is whether or not what we ate was in fact a frittata - did I undercook it? Can frittata always be cut into little slices and taken on a picnic? Or are some limp, creamy and delicious to be eaten shortly after being cooked, as mine was?

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