I consider a well-made frittata the ultimate brunch food. It comes together quickly, yet its appearance reflects a dish you’ve slaved in the kitchen for hours to create. It tastes just as good as it looks, with a fluffy texture, and rich, creamy flavor. As a bonus, since it doesn’t have a flour crust, it’s suitable for even gluten-free eaters.
Sadly, frittatas are not always well made. A poorly-made frittata is typically underwhelming: it might be soggy, with a leaden texture; it might be overcooked and too dry; or, it might be under-seasoned and come out bland. If a frittata is not executed well, it will never be the star of your brunch table.
Typically, if a frittata doesn’t come out perfectly, it’s due to one of a few common errors. Luckily, these common errors are typically easy to remedy. By mastering the proper technique to making frittatas, you can ensure that your dish is a brunch superstar every time.
What is a fritatta? Often, a frittata will be called a “crustless quiche”. While this gives you a great starting point to picture the dish, it’s not the entire story to the frittata.
A frittata is an omelette-esque, one-pan dish which is said to have origins in Italian cuisine. To make a frittata, first you briefly cook an egg, dairy (milk, cream, or even sour cream) mixture which is seasoned with herbs and spices and flavored with any variety of mix-ins, from bacon or vegetables to more exotic additions, like pastrami or homemade salsa. Cooking can be completed on the stovetop, or by putting it briefly in the oven, resulting in a dish that has a texture somewhere between an omelette and quiche, and a full, robust flavor.
Typically, a frittata will be prepared in a cast iron skillet, which is suitable for use on the stovetop and in the oven, and won’t require any transferring of ingredients. Once baked, a frittata is served warm; often, it is sliced into pizza-shaped wedge portions.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Frittatas. A fluffy, flavorful frittata can be yours–if you avoid these common mistakes. Here, we’ll discuss these mistakes and how to fix them.
You don’t season the frittata. If you don’t add seasoning to your frittata, it will end up tasting bland. Season your eggs with salt and pepper before putting them in the pan–a sprinkle of salt on top of the eggs before they bake will only flavor the top crust of the eggs, and not the whole dish.
Additions to the frittata should be seasoned individually, as well. Vegetables and meats should be cooked and seasoned, and should taste good on their own, before you put them in the frittata.
If any mix-ins are extremely high in salt, such as bacon, you might consider reducing the total amount of salt added to the recipe, as the saltiness of the ingredient will reflect on the whole dish.
You try to cut the fat by using low fat dairy. It might be tempting to reduce the fat in your frittata by swapping the full fat dairy for reduced-fat varieties. But will it be worth it? Personally, I don’t think so. The whole point of a frittata is the joyously creamy flavor and texture, and by using reduced fat dairy, you’ll dull the creamy experience.
Plus, “whole fat” dairy is less processed than its lower fat counterparts, making it less removed from the source.
When it comes to a dish like frittata, it’s better to use full-fat dairy and enjoy smaller portions, if possible, so that you won’t sacrifice any flavor.
You don’t use the appropriate amount of liquid. Is your method of mixing your egg mixture something like this: add a dash of milk or cream and hope for the best? Well, it might work out, it might not. Too much cream or dairy will make your dish too liquid; too little, and it won’t fluff up enough.
Instead of hoping for the best, learn some basic ratios. For every dozen eggs used, a half cup of dairy is required. Stick to this ratio and you’ll have the foundation of a fluffy, flavorful frittata.
You use any old pan to cook it. There are many reasons why a cast iron pan is traditional for making frittatas.
For one, a cast iron pan is naturally non-stick when seasoned, which will help reduce the possibility of crusty egg bits sticking to the side of the pan.
For another the thick cast iron pan is a great conductor of heat, so it will help your frittata cook evenly on the stovetop and in the oven, and will carry residual heat so that your frittata can cook for a short amount of time after being removed from the oven.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, a cast iron pan can transfer with ease between stovetop and oven. Don’t try that with a rubber handled pan!
You don’t choose the right cheese. For the love of dairy, choose a good melting cheese for your frittata. Cheeses that are too soft or liquid can make your frittata oily or messy; avoid processed cheeses entirely. Aged hard cheeses are fantastic as a flavor accent, but they won’t give you a gooey, melty texture. They can be used for finishing the frittata or sprinkling a little bit inside of the egg mixture for added flavor, but they won’t give you a satisfying gooey texture.
So which cheeses are considered “melty”? A few examples include cheddar, provolone, gouda, asiago, cheddar, colby, fontina, gruyère, havarti, monterey jack, mozzarella or muenster, can also be allies.
You overcook. An overcooked frittata is dry and crumbly–not moist and creamy. Detecting the perfect point to remove the frittata from the oven can be tricky, because unlike many other baked goods, once it attains a golden top, the inside is likely already overdone. Ideally, you should take the frittata out of the oven when the middle still has a slight jiggle to it; the inside will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.
If you simply must have a browned top, put the frittata under the broiler briefly (1-4 minutes) before serving. This will allow the cheese to slightly brown, so that it has the toasty appearance you desire.
Mastering the art of the frittata will make you a coveted brunch guest wherever you go. It’s an easy and impressive dish to serve, and it is bound to become a regular part of your weekend cooking!
What mix-ins do you prefer in your frittata?