A frittata is a great way to make something more substantial than a snack but less filling than a meal. It's hearty enough to be satisfying but doesn't leave you feeling stuffed and immobile. The first frittata was made with leftover risotto, bound with eggs and cooked entirely in the sauté pan. The risotto has the effect of adding additional moisture and softening the texture of the egg curd, so for a frittata of this type I wouldn't add any milk, water or stock to extend the eggs. When the frittata was nicely browned, I turned it out on the plate and garnished it with some diced heirloom tomato, rosettes of prosciutto, a chiffonade of mint and a siracha-garlic aoli with sesame oil and smoked paprika.
The mint plant has made the anger-shift from Bruce Banner to Incredible Hulk out back in the alley. Probably got peed on by something.* Forgive me honey we'll be garnishing with mint until he calms down.
The second frittata was formed in the skillet and finished under the broiler. I'll explain why in a minute. I've been on a kind of fennel kick lately, and I happened to find another apple-bottomed beauty at Andy's, so I offered her a cigarette and talked her into going home with me. Didn't get her name. Still got it fellas, just like Hef, hyachachacha. I sliced the fennel super thin, preserving the core for nice big fan-shaped pieces.
I started the whole affair with some 1/2-inch cubes of Paulina Market's house-smoked bacon and a little olive oil. Super delicious bacon. When the bacon was colored all over but not yet hard and gnarly, I added the fennel slices and sautéed them until they were just starting to color. I waited until the fennel was almost done to add some diced roasted red pepper and chopped garlic. I didn't want to risk overcooking them because the fennel can take her goddamn time getting ready jesus what are you doing in there come on we're already late. No you look fantastic. No the other one was not better. Okay if you think so but hurry. Yes you look fantastic. Jesus now with the hair. Are you kidding me.
While all that was going on I prepared the eggs. I used four eggs, mixed with a splash of sesame oil, some grated nutmeg, black pepper and a couple tablespoons of vegetable stock to lighten the curd. I chopped a couple of scallions and a handful of the fennel fronds real fine and mixed them with the eggs. I poured the eggs over the fennel and bacon, lowered the fire to moderate and covered the skillet to set the eggs. After a couple of minutes the bottom of the frittata was set but the top still had lagoons of runny egg. If I left the pan on the fire to set the frittata completely the bottom would most likely toughen and be unpleasant to eat, so I moved the skillet into the broiler to finish. I didn't want to brown the top or make a hard crust of it, just set the eggs without too much color and without toughening the bottom.
When the top of the frittata was set, I garnished it with the remaining chopped fennel frond, some celery leaves, a dusting of smoked paprika, olive oil and sea salt.
Comparing the two frittate (note pretentious italian plural), the risotto frittata had a fuller mouth sensation, almost like a rice pudding due to the bulking effect of the risotto, and the binding effect of the egg was helped along by the caramelization of the surface, which forms a kind of membrane and keeps the interior moist. The fennel frittata had a more substantial texture due to the big pieces of vegetables, but the mediating egg was soft and giving. They are fundamentally different dishes, despite sharing eggs as a principle ingredient and being made in the same skillet.
*Not what she said. I'm not going to do that for you every time.**
** That's what she said.