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Rules to follow and mistakes to avoid when preparing frittata
August 28, 2016, 9:58 am

A well-made frittata is one of the world’s most perfect foods. It is cheap, quick-cooking, and an efficient vehicle for leftovers—not to mention equally delicious at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But a poorly-made frittata is just tragic – it is spongy rather than custardy, dry, and flavorless. Avoid these common frittata mistakes and get yourself a mouth-watering result.

Use some dairy and make it full-fat: Dairy turns an ordinary omelet into a delicious, creamy egg cake. So when it comes to choosing what type of dairy you want, let your creativity guide you: Whole milk, sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche are all great options. Just be aware that anything less than a full-fat product will produce a less-unctuous frittata.

Do not wing the egg-dairy ratio: Frittatas are easy to make, but that does not mean you can throw caution to the wind and guess at the proportions. For every dozen eggs you use, you will need a half-cup of dairy. Six-egg frittatas get a quarter-cup. Want to go smaller than that? Do not bother. The beauty of a frittata is that it serves a crowd and keeps well. Use too much dairy, and the eggs will be too loose. Use too little, and you will miss out on the creamy-luscious goodness.

Use the right pan for the job: Whatever oven-safe pan you choose, be aware of how well it conducts heat. Because it retains heat well, a heavy pan like a cast-iron will continue to cook your frittata after you remove it from the oven. Pull it from the oven before it is completely finished. Here, the size does matter. A 12-egg’er should ideally be cooked in a 10-inch pan. Scale down for smaller frittata. If you wish to prepare a smaller frittata but do not have the pan, go ahead with the larger one, but be aware that the frittata will be thinner and will cook faster.

Fully cooked (most) add-ins: A frittata makes use of fully-cooked leftovers like last night’s roasted potatoes or this morning’s leftover sausage. But if you are starting from scratch, it is best to fully cook any addition that might release moisture into the eggs—mushrooms, tomatoes, and summer squash or zucchini are common ‘wet’ culprits than can water down your eggs. Sauté them separately. This also holds true for aromatics, like onions, and sturdy veggies, like raw potatoes. Do not be afraid of getting a little color on the vegetables: That is what makes them so delicious!

Do not overbake: A good frittata should have the texture of custard: trembling and barely set. An over-baked frittata, in contrast, will have all the textural appeal of a kitchen sponge (and its interior will look strikingly similar). You may want a deep golden-brown top, but the reality of it is, when the crust is golden, the interior is over-baked. If you must have a tanned top, game the system by sprinkling cheese over it in the last few minutes of cooking time. Or stick the almost-finished frittata under the broiler for a few minutes. Set your oven to 176 degrees Celsius, and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Play it safe and check the frittata five minutes before it is supposed to be done.

Season early and season well: Be sure to season your eggs with salt and pepper before adding them to the pan. A surface-level sprinkling of salt will not penetrate the rest of the frittata. And if you are adding other tasty treats to the frittata, season them separately. Adjust accordingly if you are including already-salty ingredients.

Choose your cheese wisely: Although all cheese is delicious, not all cheese is created equal. Know what function you want your cheese to perform. If you are after an oozing texture, then pick cheeses that have superior melting quality: Cheddar, gruyère, and fontina. A soft cheese, like ricotta, does not melt as well, but it is perfect if you are into dense pockets of gooeyness. A harder, aged cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, adds a sharp hit of salty, nutty flavor, but it is not a prime melter. Save it for a sharp wallop of flavor on top.

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