Fireside Frittata

Having no power drastically reduced my cooking options. I could sautè, but I couldn’t broil. I could grill, but I couldn’t toast. I could fry, but I couldn’t bake. To make matters worse, I had the majority of the contents of my fridge in a cooler on the back deck, enduring subfreezing temperatures. To avoid some of my goods from freezing solid (R.I.P., salad greens), I decided to throw some of the more delicate items together for a dish that would last me multiple meals. Yes, just me… Did I forget to mention my husband was out of town for all this?

For my lunch/dinner/breakfast/snack-in-between-firewood-gathering, I chose a hearty, warming frittata. Frittata is Italy’s version of an omelet. American omelets usually involve various fillings which are folded into beaten eggs, forming a puffy, spongy (and sometimes undercooked) dish. French omelets resemble filled crepes, with the egg white and yolk being carefully and delicately combined, creating a marbled appearance. The Italian Frittata involves mixing the fillings with the raw egg, then cooking everything at once in a shallow pan. For me, frittata is the easiest method with simple, straightforward steps and a small margin for error.

For my frittata fillings, I had a carton of Dickey Farms eggs, a package of bacon and a block of Colby cheese from Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, shiitake mushrooms from Sweden Creek Farm, a purple onion and some Heartland Creamery lemon pepper goat cheese.

I started by frying eight slices of bacon in a large nonstick pan. While the bacon fried, I gave the shiitakes a quick once over, removing the stems and brushing off any dirt and wood debris with a dry paper towel. (Feel free to reserve your shiitake stems for flavoring a stock or soup base.) Since the shiitakes varied greatly in size, I quartered the large caps, halved the medium caps and kept the smallest caps whole. Then I chopped a quarter of a large purple onion – you could just as easily use a white or yellow onion – and sautèed the shiitakes and onion in the bacon grease over medium/low heat. I wasn’t aiming for browning, here. I wanted to gently sweat the vegetables until they were soft and tender.

Meanwhile, I cracked seven eggs into a medium bowl and whisked them together with a half cup of heavy cream. You could substitute milk or half & half, but I find heavy cream lends a richness and fluffiness to the eggs that milk and half & half don’t. To the eggs I added the crumbled bacon and plenty of cheese. Use your favorite cheese or what you have on hand – eggs and cheese is a delicious combination, no matter what. I combined all the ingredients into the egg mixture, added a little chopped parsley for color, and salt and pepper.

I poured the egg mixture over the shiitakes and onion in the pan and cooked it for about six minutes with a lid on, until the sides were set, the middle was still jiggly and the bottom browned. Usually a frittata is finished in the broiler. However, with no power and an electric igniter, my broiler was out of commission. I resorted to cutting the frittata into quarters and carefully flipping each quarter in the pan. Minus a few splatters, this technique worked quite well. Those who are brave can try using an equal sized pan (either nonstick or greased) to act as a “lid”, and flipping the frittata into the top pan to brown the other side.

The flavors in the frittata were deliciously hearty. The smoky cheese and bacon, meaty shiitake mushrooms and comforting eggs were satisfying on an icy afternoon. I huddled by the fire to warm my bones and eat my lunch. This dish is great warm or at room temperature, for any meal of the day. It can be served with ketchup or hot sauce, a side salad, or as a side dish to a larger meal. You can even put a wedge between two slices of bread and have a tasty sandwich. Enjoy!

Fireside Frittata

7 eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 large onion, diced
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, bacon grease reserved
1 3/4 c. shredded cheese
1 Tbs. chopped parsley (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon, draining it on a paper towel and reserving 2 1/2 tablespoons of the grease. Remove the stems from the shiitakes and wipe any dirty caps with a dry paper towel. Slice larger caps into quarters, medium caps in half and leave the smallest caps whole. Dice the onion into 1/2″ pieces. Over medium/low heat, sautè the shiitakes and onion in the bacon grease until softened and the onion is translucent. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a medium bowl. Add the heavy cream and whisk well, until a uniform light yellow color forms. Shred the cheese and add it to the egg mixture. Add the crumbled bacon to the egg mixture. Add the parsley, if desired. Stir the ingredients until they’re mixed well, adding salt and pepper to your liking. Over medium/low heat, add the egg mixture to the shiitakes and onion in the pan. Cover and cook for about 6 minutes, until the sides of the frittata are set and the center is still slightly jiggly.

If you have a broiler, remove the lid and place under the broiler for about two minutes, until the top is evenly browned. If you don’t have a broiler, carefully cut the frittata in quarters and flip each quarter, one at a time, to brown the top. Slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

(serves 4-6)

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