Given our American infatuation with eggs, it’s peculiar that you don’t hear more about the frittata, an Italian concoction that’s like a cross between an omelette and a crustless quiche.

I think people are afraid that it’s too easy to end up with a great, big, eggy mess. Well, grab your whisk and ignore your fears. It’s frittata time.

Why you need to learn this

Come on. You know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it. Don’t you want to be cool? Yeah, I thought so. Now, let’s go make that frittata.

The steps you take

If you’ve made omelettes, you know what goes into a frittata. First, eggs. Most omelettes are made with two or three eggs and intended to be one serving. Frittatas, on the other hand, are usually designed to be cut into slices like a pie or a traditional pizza (someday I’ll address this whole “pizza cut into squares” abomination — but, another time). For a nice, thick frittata, use eight eggs in a 25cm nonstick skillet.

For a nice, thick frittata, use eight eggs in a 25cm nonstick skillet.

Next, you need some quality fillings. Here’s the thing: Like an omelette, the frittata has only a handful of ingredients. Thus, each one takes on a higher importance. Meats from a reputable butcher and fresh herbs and vegetables from a farmers market are perfect.

Also, the temperature and cooking time of the frittata aren’t enough to cook most raw ingredients, so make sure everything is perfectly cooked before you begin. For a shortcut, you can always use leftover vegetables, meat and starches like pasta, potatoes and rice.

The method is simple:

1. Beat the eggs and whisk in the other ingredients, including salt to taste.

2. Place a nonstick pan over medium heat, and add enough oil or butter to coat the bottom.

Eggs and other ingredients mix when making a frittata on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Eggs and other ingredients mix when making a frittata.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Use a spatula to stir the mixture gently, moving the coagulated egg off the surface, allowing more liquid egg to hit the hot pan (as you would an omelet). Do this until the egg mixture is mostly solid with just a bit of liquid still on top.

A frittata being stirred.

A frittata being stirred.

4. Move the pan into a hot oven or under a broiler to finish cooking. Leave it just long enough to set, about two minutes. Easy, right?

Now, the challenge is getting the frittata out of the pan. Truthfully, it’s not really that tough with a nonstick pan. If you don’t have one, stick to scrambled eggs. Few things in life are more disappointing than a perfect frittata destroyed in its unmolding by a sticky, uncooperative pan.

OK, many, many things are more disappointing. The yearly collapse of the Chicago Cubs, for example. The inevitable dishonesty of even our most trusted politicians. A broken frittata’s not even close.

Nearly set frittata moves under a broiler to finish cooking on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Nearly set frittata moves under a broiler to finish cooking.

5. Easy-peasy: Use that spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan, then slide it out whole. Or, go for the hold-your-breathy option: After loosening the frittata with your spatula, lay a plate upside down over the pan. Hold the panhandle with your dominant hand while your other hand holds the plate securely against the pan. Rapidly flip pan and plate, allowing the frittata to fall gently from the former onto the latter.

Frittatas can be served hot, room temperature or cold. Hot, they belong on a plate. At room temp or colder, small slices can be passed as finger food for parties.

The finished frittata.

The finished frittata.

Here are some great flavour combinations to get you started. Unhelpfully, I’m not giving you amounts. But for eight eggs in a 25cm skillet, a total of 1½ to 2 cups of filling should be enough. Remember, there are a billion different right ways to do this. It’s only wrong if you don’t like the final outcome.

Or if it somehow comes to life and eats your cat. But that almost never happens.

  • Grill, broil or simmer asparagus spears. Cut into bite-sized pieces, and combine with diced ham and shredded Gouda.
  • Wilt spinach in simmering water or a buttered sauté pan, then combine with grated Gruyere or Swiss and crumbled, crispy bacon.
  • Dice or shred leftover cooked chicken, and combine with quartered canned artichoke hearts and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
  • Sauté julienned bell peppers and onions, and combine with cooked, crumbled chorizo and shredded cheddar. You could also whisk a few tablespoons of your favourite salsa into the eggs before you pour them into the pan.
  • Whisk some dashi into your eggs with a splash of soy sauce and another splash of sesame oil. Make this frittata with cooked shrimp or chicken along with sliced, raw green onions. – Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Services

SEE ALSO: Italian Sausage Frittata