Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rick’s Saturday Morning Leftover Asparagus Frittata

I don’t know about you, but we like asparagus, but often it’s just the two of us, so we’re left with a pretty green pile of leftover cooked asparagus that is too nice to throw out. We often have it on a Thursday with our fish (usually salmon, a nice combo), so the solution we have come up with is to have it for brunch or lunch on Saturday in an eggy cheesy thingy that is somewhere between an omelet and a frittata. This is also a good time in the day to eat it because asparagus for some weird chemical reason is a wine killer, so better to have it in the morning or noon hour, unless you are one of those people who drink early (you know who you are!)

I actually was inspired to make this by a recipe from Provence when my daughter was studying in Aix. Their omelet had the asparagus and the grated cheese mixed right into the egg batter, which seems to break all the rules, but it works as long as you watch your heat both top and bottom since this one starts on the range top and finishes in the broiler, and may have to go back and forth a few times to get it solid without burning the bottom (or the top, for that matter.) Don’t get too hung up on the amounts. Use what you have left over, and add more or fewer eggs.

So except for the burning at the bottom potential, and sometimes getting the thing out of the pan, this is simplicity itself, but takes your total concentration for a few minutes.

1 Tb Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb butter
4 or 5 large eggs
1 cup cooked asparagus (more or less) chopped into small pieces
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (I know it isn’t French, but that is actually what they use in Provence for some reason. Use real Parmesano-Reggiano if you can. It is worth it.)
1 Tb cream or milk (I use skim and it’s fine, trust me)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl beat the eggs with your biggest whisk or an egg-beater until they get a little fluffy.Then add the chopped asparagus, the grated cheese, and salt and pepper, and stir.

Swirl the oil around in a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium high heat, and when the bottom is covered add the butter and cook it just until it starts foams. Turn the heat down to medium and dump the contents of the bowl into the pan.

Now you have to be vigilant. Jiggle the pan very gently and slowly on the burner for a few minutes. You will need to lower your heat to that sweet spot where the bottom is getting brown, but not sticking and burning. The batter should start to firm up and bubble a bit, and this is when you want to take it off the stovetop and put it under the broiler for a brief time. It should fluff a bit like a soufflé. Don’t let the top burn. You may have to go back and forth from broiler to range top to get it firm but still moist. You can do this. It should finish in the broiler till it gets a nice light brown finish, and voila!

Take it off the heat and work a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen it up. Pop it out and put it on a pretty plate. If it sticks a bit and comes out not entirely in one piecce, worry not, it will still be delicious. You may have to reassemble it some (for example, the photo at the top is from today and it needed just a little bit of arranging.  The photo at bottom is from another time and came out clean in one piece.  It's a mystery). As Julia said about getting an omelet out of a pan, you have to have the courage of your convictions. Serve this with buttered toast. It feeds the two of us amply, but with the toast could easily feed three or four. Enjoy.
(Photos by R. L. Floyd)

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