Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Say Fritatta, I Say Crustless Quiche

I can't think of a time where I don't want a quiche. The lightness of the egg, the freedom to throw whatever you'd like into it as long as there's dairy and something you naturally crave - simple ham and cheese, the shrimp and asparagus, the lobster and sour cream. I mean really, if you can make an omelet, you can make a quiche.

Most of us always have the ingredients around. Walk over to your fridge and take a look. I bet you have everything that you'd ever want, well maybe except the crust. Well if you don't have a crust, then you have the makings of a fritatta!

9 eggs
handful of thin asparagus ~1/2 cup
1/2 cup Black Forest ham, thinly sliced and diced
2/3 cup of whole milk
ground pepper
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 350.

Clean and break your asparagus. For those that have never done this, hold the stalk in your hands and slowly bend it. It will break in the correct area and provide the best tasting portion for you. It may seem wasteful, until you try to cook the entire stalk and get some rather fibery parts. Really the last thing you need are overly chewy chunks of asparagus in this dish.

Once you have broken apart these tasty treats, roughly chop them into smaller portions and set aside. Stack and dice the ham into very small pieces so that they will evenly distribute into the egg mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, combine and whisk, eggs, milk, and half of the cheese together. Once everything is smooth, mix in your pepper and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in your ovenproof skillet on medium high. Just as the butter and oil begin to smoke, toss in your asparagus and cook for four to five minutes (or until bright green). Once you reach this point, toss in your diced ham and cook for another three minutes.

Pour asparagus and ham into the egg mixture and lightly combine. Some people pour the egg into the hot pan, but I prefer this method to prevent as I find it easier to spread the meat and vegetable around in the bowl and away from the heat. Too much activity in the pan can scramble the eggs when you really just want them to set.

Once mixed thoroughly, return to pan and reduce heat to medium low and pour remaining cheese on top. Allow the egg mix to cook for approximately another 10 minutes to set. As the mixture becomes somewhat solid, remove from the stove and place in the oven and cook for 20-5 minutes or until golden brown.

As you remove the dish, the fritatta will puff up and look like it will break free from the confines of the skillet but have no fear. As it cools, it will reduce back to its normal size. This should take 5 minutes. Waiting will also allow the cheese to continue to melt and spread and allow you time to make a side salad or some garlic toast.

Slice and serve.