Monday, October 27, 2008

Peruvian blue potato and leek frittata

Beautiful things come in the morning. This morning I woke up damn early and hopped out of bed, happy and puzzled. Why did I feel so good? No clue. I watched the clock and waited for the River Valley Market to open its doors. I wanted to procure a pound of Pierce Brother's, Fog Buster coffee. Pierce Brothers air roast their coffee, and I buy the oily beans with joy. But I digress, if only a little. Good frittatas are like all good things: they take time, my dear readers, so be patient.

Actually, frittatas are easy to make, and with practice you can make them rapidly. I had not intended to make one this morning, but I cannot pass up a Peruvian blue potato or a dozen eggs from nearby Diemand Farm. I could also not pass up an un-sliced slab of Vermont made bacon, or a pint of gorgeous, Mapleline Farms heavy cream. And, in case you think I cannot one-up myself, apparently I needed a baggie of smoked paprika and a free apple. It is good and right to pay top dollar for locally grown and produced food.

Peruvian blue and leek frittata:


The trick is the potatoes. They must be fully cooked, toothsome and smooth, but never falling apart. Bring some water to a boil (only enough to cover and then a tad more) and add your salt. Spoon up a baby pond of salty water, blow on it, and taste it. You want it as salty as you do your potatoes (you choose). So, then you plop your papas into the salted water and cook them at a very low simmer. Don't boil them. A vigorous boil will degrade them. Take the time to cook them slowly. Strain them when they are cooked through, and set them aside to cool down.


Get yourself some eggs you feel good about. Generally, you want one large egg per small potato. If you throw the ratio too far towards the potato heavy side, your frittata will fall apart when you remove it from the iron skillet. So, crack your eggs into a mixing bowl and add any other seasoning ingredients, including salt and pepper. Make sure you use enough salt. You can put salt onto a frittata, but after it is cooked you can never put salt into one. Remember that. You can always test the saltiness of the egg by cooking up a spoonful of it. Now, add some heavy cream (or half-and-half, or some cooled potato cooking water) to your eggs and whisk in. Adding liquid to the eggs creates the rising effect you want. The water steams and the frittata rises accordingly. Later, it falls. All things do.

Leeks: you've got options, kiddo!

Leeks are optional. Frittatas are flexible. Accent yours with anything you like. I often add cheese, both inside and on top. I generally add fresh chopped herbs to the eggs. Do whatever you like. Add cheap baloney if it tickles your fancy.

How to cook a frittata perfectly:

A well-seasoned, cast iron skillet is absolutely necessary. Ingredient quantities, naturally, depend on the size of your skillet. It's like buying pants, people. You generally match them to the amount of rump you have. Also, if you don't have a cast iron skillet, you should, but you can use any skillet that holds heat and, preferably, can withstand a few minutes under the broiler. Ok, moving forward.

Don't skimp on the oil! Use plenty of olive oil. Pour a load of it into your skillet and put the gas on quite low. Absolutely do not make your pan/oil too hot! Browned or burned eggs are bad. Frittatas cook slowly; high heat turns your frittata into an inedible disc. If you mess this up, go to Denny's and order the Grand Slam, i.e. you whacked your dish out of the park.

Right, after your oil is warmed up enough to just barely set the eggs, pour the egg mixture into the pan. The egg mixture should have your cooled potatoes in it, BTW. If you put enough oil into the pan, it should creep up the sides of the pan and create some small flooding on top of the eggs. This is good. This is what you want to happen. Then, keep your frittata cooking at a low heat on the burner until it is partially set and transfer it to a 250 degree oven. When your frittata is a glorious, yellow balloon, remove it, shave some Parmesan onto the top, fling your sweated leeks onto it, etc etc etc, and pop it under the broiler until the top takes color. You are now done. Well, almost.

If your pan is properly seasoned, and you used enough oil, your frittata will plop out intact. Hold a plate over the pan and invert! Presto! Upside-down frittata. Sandwich with another plate and invert! Presto! Right-side-up frittata. Slice and serve with crusty, white bread. I ate mine with a Pugliese loaf made right here in Northampton by Old School Bakery.

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