Whether served for breakfast, carried to the office for nibbling at one’s desk, carted to the beach for al fresco sustenance, or used as the basis for an ad-lib dinner, a frittata is an abidingly easy, satisfying choice. Good eggs and a few tasty additions are all you need.
In its simplest form, a traditional frittata is a type of flat omelet. Beaten eggs, perhaps with some grated Parmesan, are poured into a hot skillet and manipulated until set on the bottom, then flipped like a large pancake to cook the other side. Simply invert the half-cooked frittata onto a plate and slip it back into the pan. It’s not difficult to do – it’s fun – but many cooks find it awkward. Popping the pan into a hot oven or under the broiler to finish has become the technique most people now use.
Even so, everyone approaches frittata cooking a bit differently. Some cooks use high heat, scrambling the eggs while lifting the edges and tilting the pan to allow most of the mixture to set; cheese is sprinkled on top before broiling. Others maintain low, slow heat to start, then transfer the pan to the oven for a final few minutes of cooking.
Another way, which works especially well with a frittata that has a generous filling of vegetables, meat and cheese, is to pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and send it to the oven straight away. A deep-dish frittata like this takes 30 to 40 minutes, like a quiche without a crust.
One advantage of a baked-from-the-get-go frittata is that it can be assembled in advance, so no last-minute stovetop work is required. During the holiday season, when extended family gathers and houseguests need feeding, a “loaded” frittata makes a quick, crowd-pleasing meal.
My version contains lots of flavorful ingredients: spicy Italian sausage, delectable deep green broccoli raab and four kinds of cheese. Mellow Parmesan, sharp provolone, smoky mozzarella and creamy ricotta, each with a distinct personality, become part of a harmonious whole. The combination here is carefully curated. (A frittata ought not be considered a vehicle for random bits of leftovers.)
The frittata puffs significantly in the oven, and the top turns golden. Rather than deliver it to the table piping hot, let it cool slightly for better flavor and texture. I find it most divine at room temperature or just barely warm.
And, depending upon how it’s sliced, a substantial frittata of this sort can be an appetizer, a snack or a main course.
And to drink …
Wine experts are often cautious about pairing wine with eggs. Their richness, particularly when soft and runny, can mute a wine’s flavors. The fallback position is often sparkling wine, which cuts through the richness and feels appropriate when the egg dish is served early in the day. Yet with this robust frittata, I’d take a chance on a red, particularly a red with plenty of acidity, like Chianti or another sangiovese wine. Sangiovese will go especially well with the sausage, cheeses and broccoli raab, as long as the wine is not oaky. You want to feel the roughness of the wine without polish or embossment. Other red options include aglianico, Etna Rosso or even a syrah from the northern Rhône, like a St.-Joseph or a Crozes-Hermitage. Of course, if it’s early, sparkling wine may still feel best.
Hot Italian Sausage and Broccoli Raab Frittata
Total time: 1 hour; yield: 8 servings
1 pound broccoli raab, tough stem ends removed
3/4 pound hot Italian sausage, loose or in links
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
Salt and black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons roughly chopped rosemary
1 1/2 cups ricotta
3 ounces grated provolone (about 1 1/4 cup)
3 ounces grated Parmesan (about 3/4 cup)
4 ounces grated smoked mozzarella (about 1 1/2 cup)
10 eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli raab and cook for 1 minute, just to wilt, then remove, rinse with cold water and drain. Roughly chop greens, then squeeze to remove excess water and set aside.
2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage (remove casings from links first) and cook, stirring and mashing, until sausage is in large, well-browned crumbled pieces, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove cooked sausage, blot on paper towels, and set aside.
3. Add olive oil to skillet. When oil is hot, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then add garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute more. Turn off heat and stir in chopped greens and reserved sausage. Let mixture cool in pan.
4. Spoon dabs of ricotta over greens mixture, then sprinkle evenly with provolone, Parmesan and mozzarella. Pour seasoned eggs over, tilting pan to distribute.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and eggs are no longer runny at the center. (Use a skewer or paring knife to check; residual heat will continue to cook frittata as it cools.) Let cool at least 15 minutes, then cut into wedges.