I’ve long loved the idea of frittatas, but have never loved an actual frittata. It seems so easy- combine eggs and vegetables, then sauté and broil! But whenever I’ve tried to make frittatas they end up dry and loveless. I eat them, because I don’t like to waste food, but I spend most of the time wishing I had made quiche instead.
That is until yesterday , when I found myself rereading An Everlasting Meal by the brilliant Tamar Adler. Adler gave sparse and urgent directions for making frittata, specifically for using up leftover. About frittatas made from leftover pasta, Adler writes,
“Other than the perfect solitary sybaritic breakfast of pasta eaten directly out of a cold bowl, in bewilderment and utter presence, this is the best use, I believe, of leftover pasta. Glory be.”
I had no leftover pasta to fill my frittata. Pasta tends to fall into the “if it’s on my plate I will eat it” category for me, so there’s unlikely to be leftover pasta frittatas in my future. If there is I will absolutely turn it into a frittata. But for now I wanted a frittata filled with mushrooms and shallots and sage, tasting of a fall walk and brilliant sunsets early in the day.
Because I’ve always had bad luck with my frittatas I did some research. (I consulted here and here in addition to Adler.) It took a bit of reading, a bit of cobbling, and thirty minutes for a gorgeous golden frittata has emerged from the oven.
The two tricks that I’ve never used before and now will never foresake are to add a bit of heavy cream, and to let the eggs just start to form an edge with the pan before transferring the frittata to the oven. Before I was trying to cook the eggs through on the stovetop, and then would broil the top. This ended up with an inferior product, dry and rubbery. There’s no dry spots here. Instead it’s soft and luscious, a happy melding of egg and vegetable and cream.
I chose crimini mushrooms, shallots, and sage for my filling because I couldn’t think of a better counterpart to a fall day than earthy mushrooms, woodsy sage, and sweet shallots. If you don’t have the urge to recreate feeling through food as I do, one of the beauties of frittatas is that they are not so much a recipe as a technique. There may be fillings for frittatas that aren’t delicious, but I cannot think of any.
Mushroom, Shallot and Sage Frittata
I used an 8 inch cast iron skillet for this, and it turned out perfect. If you have another oven safe skillet of the same size it work just fine, but you may need more butter.
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, divided
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned, and thinly sliced
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
6 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Warm a large skillet over medium-low heat. Melt the two tablespoons of butter in the large skillet. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and shallots. Stir well so that it’s all coated in the melted butter, then add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the ground nutmeg. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened and the shallots have all separated into long, loose strings, about 6 minutes. Add the sage and cook for another minute, until the whole mess smells woodsy and fragrant. Remove the mushrooms from the heat, and spread around the pan to let it cool quickly.
While the mushrooms are cooling whisk together in a large bowl the eggs, the heavy cream, and the remainder of the salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms are cool enough to touch set an 8-inch cast iron skillet over low heat and allow it to warm. If your mushrooms are taking longer to cool than you’d like stir them often and spread them as thinly as possible. It should only take about 5 minutes for the mushrooms to cool.
Melt the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter in your cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms to the eggs, and stir well. Pour the mushroom-egg mixture into the preheated cast iron skillet. Allow the eggs to sit in the skillet just until edges where the egg and skillet meet start to develop. This should only take two or so minutes. Once that happens, kill the heat and place the skillet into the preheated oven.
Set a timer for 15 minutes. Bake your frittata until the center is just set and doesn’t jiggle if you shake it. If your frittata is not there at 15 minutes, check every 5 minutes until it is ready. Remove from the oven, and allow it to cool in the skillet for 5 minutes.
Place a plate over the skillet and invert the skillet so the frittata removes cleanly. If it sticks to the side, use an offset spatula or a butter knife to run around the rim.
Serve in fat wedges at room temperature.